In 2017, for the most part, the Middle East has been a place where Western punditry and gloomy predictions came to die. While analysts and journalists are still trying to hype up the alleged “fallout” from Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, once more, reality is proving them wrong and showing that things change — often at a pace that the international community is not comfortable following.

Barack Obama was one person who tried to break the mold of the U.S. strategy in the Middle East, and 2017 offered some answers on whether the change was for better or worse.

Donald Trump’s walk in Syria followed Obama’s path — for all the controversy it caused, the U.S. air strike against the Syrian army’s position following another chemical weapons attack proved to be a merely symbolic act, a glitch in the strategy that the State Department is actually content with following.

Midway through that path, Bashar al-Assad has every reason to celebrate when the clock ticks midnight on New Year’s Eve, because the 99 problems that he had on January 1, 2017 are all but gone this December.


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