Tahrir Square Protest

Facing a colossal popular movement that triggered the popular unrest throughout the Arab world, Tunisia's dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has to leave the post and flee after close to two and a half decades in power. In February, in Egypt, with huge mass of Egyptians accumulating at Tahrir Square in Cairo, President Hosni Mubarak became next to fall leaving the nation into the hands of military elites. International media names the phenomenon Arab Spring. In the same month, Bahrain also witnesses similar popular protests that was ruthlessly trampled in collusion with Saudi regime. In totality, Arab Spring managed to undermine the American influence in the region and set precedent for similar protests in other countries too.

War in Libya

As if on cue, a tribal rebellion erupts in Benghazi, Libya in opposition to four decades of rule of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. On March 19, in a spectacular show of hypocrisy, French, US and British forces under NATO banner launched air strikes to impose a 'no-flying zone' A National Transitional Council,that got instant recognition from UN and its 60 member nations, was formed. Supported by superior fire-power,the opposition forces run over Tripoli. On October 20, toppled dictator Gaddafi is lynched by the crowd in his hometown of Sirte. The Libyan campaign received widespread condemnation with Russia and China ruing their earlier decision to impose no-fly zone.

Fukushima meltdown

A massive earthquake and the tsunami that followed it struck northeastern Japan leading to widespread devastation of man and material. As things settles, close to 20,000 people were killed. The tsunami also triggered a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Nuclear Power plant that lead to minor implosions and release of toxic fumes. The event was declared as the worst industrial disaster following the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. The incident raised valid questions on the security of similar plants world over and weakened the case for nuclear power. Although Japan managed to avert a bigger crisis due to its efficient workforce and unlimited access to technology, the event stuck the fear of meltdown permanently.

Osama Bin Laden

Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, who was pegged responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre, Pentagon and others was shot dead by US Navy Seal commandos in the Pakistani cantonment town of Abbotabad after nearly 10-years manhunt. While the entire episode was conducted in a hushed-up manner, raising several questions, the incident exerted massive pressure on both civilian and military establishments in Pakistan. Later in year, the relation between Pakistan and US further deteriorated when NATO opened fire and killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at a border post in what prima facie appeared a deliberate move. As the year ends, relation remains tenuous with little or no improvement in foreseeable future.

Occupy Wall-street Protest

It all started with the anti-capitalist demonstrations in Spain and quickly spread to Britain and the United States and other western countries. The movement caught impetus suddenly in mid October as millions demonstrated throughout the world leading to frantic and often brutal crackdown by the respective regimes, especially United States where it took the shape of 'Occupy Wall Street' protests as the US Congress agreed on a massive austerity plan and raising the US debt ceiling. Meanwhile, Standard and Poor's degraded the US credit rating from its AAA for the first time in history, leading to further erosion in its soft-power. On the other hand, in July, European Union leaders reached a consensus on a second bailout for Greece worth 159 billion euros ($215 billion) as Spain and Italy remained on the brink of bankruptcy.

South Sudan Referendum

South Sudan declared independence following a referendum in January where close to 100 percent respondents voted for a separate sovereign state. The referendum came following a decade long negotiations mediated by African Union and Arab League. The new country becomes the UN's 193rd member state. However, the problems in the region are far from over. While South Sudan olds lion share of all the oil reserves discovered till now, North holds almost full control over logistics such as pipelines and refineries. While it assures mutual dependency, it also leaves open door for further confrontation. South Sudan in fact started the confrontational rhetoric by allying to Israel.

Norway Attack by Breivik

77 people were killed in a twin bombing and the shooting spree that followed it by an ultra right-wing extremist Anders Breivik in Norway. Breivik attacked a summer workshop camp of young Labour Party political workers wiping out an almost entire generation of upcoming politicos. Following the carnage, western media kept speculating about al-Qaeda for a whole day before it became clear that the attacker was a white Christian. The attack was pegged as a lone wolf incident even though the attacker talked about a possible "second cell". Months later, the local court judged the attacker insane virtually putting him off the hook as the world watched in shock. The incident managed to raise concern over similar far-right movements in Europe that the respective right-wing governments were ignoring advertently or inadvertently.

Burhanuddin Rabbani

Burhanuddin Rabbani, Afghanistan's former president and a veteran non-Pashtun Mujahiddin who was close to Ahmad Shah Mashud, was assassinated in a turban suicide attack. Rabbani was the head of the 'High Peace Council' designated to strike a peace deal with the Taliban. Rabbani's killing was a serious blow not only to the Northern Alliance, now more an informal group, but also to the integration process. As far as non-Pashtun groups were concerned, it lost the only leader that was respected by all the tribes including Uzbek, Tajiks and Hazaras among others. Rabbani's killing lead to knee-jerk reaction by President Karzai who saw him pushed to the corner. The peace in Afghanistan remains elusive.

Mahmoud Abbas in UN

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas asked the United Nations to admit the state of Palestine. The historic move did not clear the Security Council hurdle where unprecedented pressure from United States and a possible Veto led to a log-jam but is expected to be passed in the General Assembly where Palestinians enjoy widespread support. The move dented US's credibility as an honest mediator and isolated it on the world stage as never before. The move also managed to split EU from the middle as Eastern European block as well as a few other nations welcomed the move in open defiance to the US. On October 31, Palestinians win entry to UNESCO, prompting the US to cut the organisation's funding and further exposing itself.

US troops in Iraq leaving

Following US President Barack Obama's half-hearted announcement in the summers, the US forces, numbering around 39,000, were withdrawn from Iraq after a nine-year campaign that led to 4,400 American soldiers and as many as a million Iraqis killed. On the face of it, US tried to give the impression that it did the withdrawal voluntarily but it was apparent that the withdrawal became compulsory after Prime Minister Maliki arranged the number in the parliament to defeat a US proposal to keep the military permanently. The move led to a further increase in the Iranian influence in the region.
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