- Bashar al-Assad is still in power. In 2011 commentators predicted he would be gone in three months.
- Ed Miliband and Vladimir Putin saved Obama from political disaster over Syria.
- Mohamed Morsi, elected president of Egypt in 2012, was ousted by the army, to widespread popular approval.
- Silvio Berlusconi failed to escape conviction and was expelled from the Senate.
- Benedict XVI became the first Pope to abdicate voluntarily since 1294.
- Edward Snowden revealed how much data the National Security Agency was collecting – and how easy it was for a contractor to steal it.
- US Army Private Bradley Manning became Chelsea Manning.
- Baroness Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief often dismissed as a lightweight, proved to be the key to unlocking the Iranian nuclear agreement.
- Emerging economies – India, Brazil – had a cold shower when the US signalled it might end quantitative easing.
- India evacuated one milion people from the path of Cyclone Phailin in October, and only 22 died. A similar cyclone in 1999 killed 10,000.
World in Brief: Surprises of 2013
Unexpected events of the year