The world's most likely trouble spots in 2010 / Simon Tisdall



Iran's claim to the number one position on the Guardian's 2010 Troublespotometer is overwhelming. It currently exhibits all the characteristics of a state hell-bent on self-destruction.

First, its repressive government is widely seen by its own people as illegitimate, after June's "stolen" elections. Simmering political and social unrest exploded again in December and could yet become uncontainable.

Second, the country's economy is in a frightful mess, with youth unemployment high and opportunity and investment low. This is all the more unforgivable, given Iran's vast oil and gas riches.

Third, its top leaders, Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, are zealous Islamic purists to whom the idea of compromise, with domestic or foreign foes, is wholly alien.

Fourth, Iran continues to work hard to make itself a pariah state, flouting the UN security council, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Non-Proliferation Treaty in pursuit of its "nuclear rights" (ie alleged atom bombs).

Fifth, Iran's backing for violent, hardline groups in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Yemen is increasingly seen by Arab neigh... >>>

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