1. President Barack Obama: A no-brainer entry. Obama's foreign policy is dominated by the war in Afghanistan and its Pakistan spill-over, by the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the withdrawal from Iraq, Iran's nuclear ambitions, oil politics and Islam's evolution.
2. Mike Mullen: Mullen is the chairman of the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs of Staff who, besides being the first such chairman to fully endorse the final act in the de-segregation of the armed forces ("It is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do"), is also one of the most powerful men behind President Obama's strategy in Afghanistan
3. Salam Fayyad: A man we should be hearing more about, and from (if the nation's OpEd pages were more attuned to voices that matter). He is the Palestinian prime minister, "a passionate advocate of the Palestinian cause with a clear vision of the unequivocal, non-violent path to statehood and peace with Israel," writes Tony Blair, the former British prime minister and a special envoy to the Middle East.
4.Recep Tayyip Erdogan : By far one of the Middle East's (and the world's) most fascinating leaders, as Middle East Issues has attempted to chronicle. A true maverick, he is pushing Turkey into the un-chartered territory of democracy with Islam. And he's a big influence on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Turkey being the closest thing to a friend Israel has in the region.
5. Gen. Stanley McChrystal: He is Obama's top commander in Afghanistan, and had to be reined in in 2009 when he began acting a bit like Gen. MacArthur. He's one of the architects of Obama's Afpak strategy.
None. And that says more about Time's blinkered view of the world than about any dearth of artists in the Middle East.
7. Zaha Hadid: She is an Iraqi architect whose building designs "are like a gust of wind," writes Donna Karan, the designer, "organic, forceful and utterly natural. Her oeuvre is diverse: she has done structures from the Vitra Fire Station in Weil am Rhein, Germany, to the Terminus Hoenheim-Nord in Starsburg, France, to the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati, Ohio."
8. Mir-Hossein Mousavi: He was Iran's opposition leader in the 2009 election that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his friends stole. Mousavi is still, according to Time, "inspiring hope for change in Iran." Change will be coming to Iran. Whether Mousavi is the change agent, however, is doubtful.
9. Reem Al Numery: She was 12, Yemeni, and being forced into marriage with her 30-year-old cousin, but publicly protested what, in Yemen, is an everyday scandal abetted by "custom" and families' desperation.
10. Zahra Rahnavard: Time calls her "the woman Ahmadinejad fears," for good reason. She is the power behind Mir-Hossein Mousavi, and also his wife, and the former head of Alzahra University for women in Tehran. If there is a powerful feminist movement within Islam, and there very much is (though it may not correspond to what Western feminists may want it to be), Zahra Rahnavard is one of its many faces.
11. Malalai Joya: "To be a woman growing up in Afghanistan under the Taliban and to survive is in itself a major feat. To be so lucky as to become literate in a place where girls are shrouded and denied even fresh air is close to a miracle. To start underground schools and educate girls under the noses of turbaned, self-appointed defenders of virtue and forbidders of vice is truly extraordinary." Those are the good lines from Ayan Hirsi Ali's brief profile of Joya. Unfortunately, Ali goes on to lecture Joya about needing to support NATO's presence in Afghanistan, which prompted this response from the Defense Committee for Malalai Joya: "We believe it is disrespectful of Ms. Joya not to make clear her consistent and vocal opposition to the NATO occupation of Afghanistan. In fact, it is her opposition to war which has made her influential throughout the world, since in the vast majority of NATO countries public opinion is also opposed to the war."