I was asked by Iran’s main opposition, pro-democracy website — Radio Farda, which claims 8 million listeners daily in Iran, as well as a strong online presence — to outline the three most important global political events of 2009. (I joined journalists from the Guardian, Huffington Post, France24, and the Christian Science Monitor in doing so.)
These were my choices, in their original English. (They appear on the website and were read out on air on Radio Farda in Persian.)
(1) The unrest in Iran. The widespread protests that have continued unabated since June’s rigged presidential elections now increasingly look like the beginnings of what could turn into a full-fledged movement to overthrow the entire Islamic Republic. Were Iranians to do this and bring in a government that respected human rights, suspended its nuclear program, and extended a hand of friendship to the West, to the Arab world, and even to Israel, it would have enormous repercussions far beyond the Middle East.
(2) The inauguration of Barack Obama: Not for the reason others may give (i.e., that he is the first African-American president), but because he is the most inexperienced president America has had for a long while — and it shows, especially in foreign policy. Obama has already mishandled Russia, Eastern Europe, China, the Arab world, Israel and Japan to name only some. I am a believer in a strong America that supports democracies and doesn’t coddle up to dictators, so let us hope Obama changes course in 2010.
(3) The increased destabilization in Pakistan. Although Pakistan’s army and secular elite are still firmly in control, the increasing insurgency and terror attacks by al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic radicals trying to take over a country that has a large nuclear arsenal is a cause for deep concern globally.