The 12 most-read 2011 articles in Opinion

There has been much to discuss this year such as the devastating tsunami that struck Japan, Muammar Gaddafi's downfall, Osama bin Laden's death, the closure of Britain's best-selling tabloid paper, tragedy in Norway, the summer riots and of course the revolutions across the Arab world.

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Robert Fisk, our multiple award-winning Middle East correspondent, dominates the most read articles in this section with his coverage of the Arab Spring, a popular topic.

The 12 most read are those opinion articles published in 2011 that have been visited by the greatest number of separate users to date.

Interesting fact: The top three most read articles this year in this section were published on a Tuesday.

The list (click the headlines to read articles in full)

1. How the demise of a trusted adviser could bring down Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

By Robert Fisk, Tuesday 28th June

The potential resignation of Iran's President, due to a political crisis involving a close friend and confidant of Ahmadinejad, was by far the most read article of the year in opinion. Ahmadinejad's predicament at the time was a 'story worthy of any Persian tale.'

2. Was he betrayed? Of course. Pakistan knew Bin Laden's hiding place all along

By Robert Fisk, Tuesday 3rd May

Our Middle East correspondent, who met Osama bin Laden three times, informs us that Bin Laden had become a nonentity before his demise as the mass revolutions in the Arab world had meant that al-Qa'ida was already politically dead.

3. Caring costs – but so do riots

By Camila Batmanghelidjh, Tuesday 9th August

The author of this article, the founder of the charities The Place To Be and Kids Company, tells us that those who took part in the summer riots feel they don't actually belong to the community but that they are cut adrift from society.

4. Who cares in the Middle East what Obama says?

By Robert Fisk, Monday 30th May

Our Middle East correspondent says that President Obama has shown himself to be weak in his dealings with the Middle East this year and that its future will be shaped without American influence.

5. Do those who flaunt the poppy on their lapels know that they mock the war dead?

By Robert Fisk, Saturday 5th November

Citing the views of his dad Robert Fisk tells us why he stopped wearing the poppy on the week before Remembrance Day. He tells us that people who had no idea of the suffering of the Great War were now ‘ostentatiously wearing a poppy for social or work-related reasons, to look patriotic and British.’

6. For 10 years, we've lied to ourselves to avoid asking the one real question

By Robert Fisk, Saturday 3rd September

Our correspondent discusses the official 9/11 report and wonders if we have been told the truth about the day that "changed the world for ever."

7. The brutal truth about Tunisia

By Robert Fisk, Monday 17th January

Bloodshed, tears, but no democracy says Robert Fisk. He feared that despite the fall of the dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali that Tunisia would once again be ruled by a "benevolent strongman."

8. You can't blame Gaddafi for thinking he was one of the good guys

By Robert Fisk, Friday 21st October

The colonel was once beloved of the Foreign Office (after the coup against King Idris), then loathed because he sent weapons to the IRA. Robert Fisk asks: can you blame the man for thinking he was a good guy?

9. Egypt: Death throes of a dictatorship

By Robert Fisk, Sunday 30th January

Written before Mubarak resigned, our writer joins protesters atop a Cairo tank as the army showed signs of backing the people against Mubarak's regime.

10. First it was Saddam. Then Gaddafi. Now there's a vacancy for the West's favourite crackpot tyrant

By Robert Fisk, Saturday 19th March

Written before the death of Muammar Gaddafi and just days after the UN Security Council passed a resolution authorising "all necessary measures" to protect civilians in Libya from pro-Gaddafi forces, our correspondent wonders if it really means regime-change once again.

11. Why the Middle East will never be the same again

By Robert Fisk, Tuesday 20th September

Discussing the Palestinians application to become a UN member state, Robert Fisk predicts that the Palestinians won't achieve statehood, but that they would consign the 'peace process' to history.

12. A woman's opinion is the mini-skirt of the internet

By Laurie Penny, Friday 4th November

The implication that a woman must be sexually appealing to be taken seriously as a thinker did not start with the internet, writes Laurie Penny, but the internet does make it easier for boys to become bullies.

Editors' choice

Simon O'Hagan, Assistant Editor of The Independent

A look back through a year of Independent comment shows what tumultuous times we have lived through and how brilliantly a range of writers have responded in our pages.

One of my favourites goes right back to the start of the year - a piece by the incomparably eloquent and insightful Jonathan Raban on the shooting of US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and what it told us about the state of American politics. Also from the States: another great novelist\commentator in Jay McInerney whose piece on the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Khan had all the zip and energy of the New York he was describing.

No one writes or thinks bigger than our own Howard Jacobson whose reign as Booker Prize title-holder seemed to propel him to new heights in his journalism. You could pick any of his pieces. Mine would be two he did towards the end of the year - on the death of the cricketer Peter Roebuck, and, linked to the Leveson Inquiry, an equally devastating piece on press intrusion. Matthew Norman was likewise outstanding on Rupert Murdoch, as was the novelist Margaret Drabble.

Philip Hensher had a brilliant year. Of many great pieces I'd pick out two - on the Royal Wedding, and on the Liam Fox\Adam Werritty affair and the commodification of friendship.

Other pieces I loved: novelist Linda Grant on how ebooks have changed her reading experience; historian Felipe Fernandez Armesto's magisterial overview of the crisis in Europe; Andy Gill on what makes a rock casualty; Charlotte Raven on society's obsession with food; Mary Ann Sieghart generally but especially on pink v blue; and Owen Jones, new young voice of the Left, on the anger he senses among ordinary people.


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