World in Brief: Surprises of 2013

Unexpected events of the year

The World Today
Published 9 December 2013 Updated 7 December 2018 1 minute READ
Baroness Ashton with Iran's Mohammad Javad Zarif. Photo: Fabrice Cofrini/AFP/Getty

Baroness Ashton with Iran’s Mohammad Javad Zarif. Photo: Fabrice Cofrini/AFP/Getty

  1. Bashar al-Assad is still in power. In 2011 commentators predicted he would be gone in three months.
  2. Ed Miliband and Vladimir Putin saved Obama from political disaster over Syria.
  3. Mohamed Morsi, elected president of Egypt in 2012, was ousted by the army, to widespread popular approval.
  4. Silvio Berlusconi failed to escape conviction and was expelled from the Senate.
  5. Benedict XVI became the first Pope to abdicate voluntarily since 1294.
  6. Edward Snowden revealed how much data the National Security Agency was collecting – and how easy it was for a contractor to steal it.
  7. US Army Private Bradley Manning became Chelsea Manning.
  8. Baroness Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief often dismissed as a lightweight, proved to be the key to unlocking the Iranian nuclear agreement.
  9. Emerging economies – India, Brazil – had a cold shower when the US signalled it might end quantitative easing.
  10. 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.