Kinsman: What was the most significant development in international affairs this year?

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December 19, 2013
Jeremy Kinsman
Former ambassador to the European Union and high commissioner to Britain

Rouhani’s election in Iran and then the tentative and preliminary US/EU/Iran deal on nuclear weapons restraint and sanctions, including the beginnings of an absolutely necessary partial rapprochement between the US and Iran. The revelation of US secret conversations with the Iranians and then the deal itself have alienated US allies Israel and Saudi Arabia, chief Sunni foe of Shia Iran, and hardliners within Iran. As mutual antagonists confront their apparently lessened influence on events (ever-narcissistic, they maintain for now it is US Middle East influence that is weakened), they may yet find sufficient security reassurance to permit enough fluidity for a decrease in regional tensions, including prospects for stabilizing the Syrian chaos. Whatever the outcome in what remains the world’s lead regional tinder box, and I applaud the diplomacy involved, this development outstrips all others for potential significance.