The mere election of Hasan Rouhani should be considered revolutionary as it repudiates the extremist ideology of Iranian hardliners. However, whether the new Iranian leader will be able to affect any change remains to be seen.
Syria's civil war rages on with ad hoc arrangements for civilian law enforcement in rebel-held areas. Debates about the relative merits of arming the Syrian opposition should not hijack attempts to promote accountability and the rule of law.
Iraq is on the brink of civil war. Restless Sunni minorities are emboldened by Sunni opposition in Syria and entrenched authoritarianism by a Shia led government. The only solution is deeper de-centralisation or a break-up of Iraq itself.
It has now become apparent that the airline bomb suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was trained in Yemen by Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula. Neither the threat of this attack nor the danger posed by the group to Western interests should be exaggerated.
Powerful structural forces inside Iran, not individual personalities, have brought Tehran to the brink of confrontation with the international community over its nuclear programme. Hope lies with closer US-Iran contacts - but this will come at the expense of even greater tensions with Britain and Israel.