Only a fool offers longer term predictions about the Middle East. I offer the following shorter term predictions about the Middle East for 2015.
In a world rife with war, religious, racial, gender, sectarian, and political strife, when so many children lack safety, enough food, shelter, health care, and education and suffer unthinkable losses of parents to disease, violence, and war, I hope this New Year will bring adults closer to our common sense and moral responsibility for children's well being.
The Middle East is one of the world's most strategically significant regions. Stunningly, perhaps, the region does not yet have in place the necessary institutions and mechanisms to discuss and manage, and to prevent and respond to crises. Strategic and visionary leadership is required to reverse the state of the region.
A Saudi-led proxy war against Iran playing out in Syria and Iraq has expanded onto the soccer pitch with a last minute decision by the Palestinian national team to cancel a friendly against Iran.
Even Obama's supporters sometimes express frustration because the president has refused to act for the sake of acting, shoot from the hip, or jump to conclusions. His approach, no matter the issue, has been measured, studied, thoughtful, cerebral and yes, lawyerly.
Despite some of the diplomatic headways that President Rouhani and his negotiating team made and despite some of the limited sanction reliefs that Iran has received, the gaps between the six world powers and Iran remain to be deep to bridge.
By all rights, given its size, location, and natural resource base, Brazil should be an economic juggernaut. But the truth is that Brazil should never have been designated a BRIC because it is a poorly managed economy that has rarely lived up to its potential.
Does hacking into a private entertainment corporation's computer files constitute an act of war? Against whom, exactly?
In denouncing Obama's Cuba initiative, Republican political figures have planted themselves firmly in the past, just as they had denounced diplomatic ties with China and the Panama Canal treaty.
In today's topsy-turvy environment, all bets are off. Rather than focus on critical upcoming legislative elections and a major conference to help attract investments to Egypt's struggling economy, TV channels seem sidelined by matters that raise eyebrows and questions given their timing.
What the US did in beginning the road towards reconciliation with Cuba is an act of true leadership that overshadows any military conquest any nation could ever claim. To open the door to dialogue and peace is a step in the direction of a future all humanity can share and prosper in.
In the new year, I expect further diplomatic breakthroughs. I strongly suspect that by next Christmas we may see the Catholic Church enjoying normalized relations with the Chinese government.
More than than three years into Syria's brutal civil war, Syrian Kurds have carved out an entity of their own close to the border with Turkey.
If you ask me, Obama's action on Cuba was a master stroke, and full of foresight. He has undercut Putin's ability to use Cuba as a pressure point against the U.S. going forward and has, in a single action, transformed a net negative for the U.S. and Cuba into a net positive for its government, people, and businesses.
It wasn't that the US has lacked opportunities to resume diplomatic relations with Cuba. We could have at least begun the process thirty-five years ago. I was there, and this is the story you will not read in any diplomatic archive. The story begins in Iran...
After the Sydney crisis, Australia and the world are mourning the loss of two lives: a mother of three and a beloved son. Iranians here in the diaspora mourn too, for the lives taken, and for the as-yet-unknown loss of momentum toward a harmonious peace and place in the world untainted by the actions of a few.