For Washington’s traditional allies and foes in the Middle East, this year began full of anxious hopes and expectations with a president who can safely be classified as a wild card in American politics.

In January, U.S.-backed Iraqi forces were pushing against Islamic State in eastern Mosul and the caliphate in Syria was still relatively strong. By July, Mosul was declared liberated, paying a heavy price along the way, leveled to the ground during the battles against the enemy deeply entrenched in the city’s historical suburbs. Raqqa followed in October. The notorious caliphate that managed to turn its name into a synonym for brutality and terrorism is now confined to a few enclaves in Syria and Iraq.

Naturally, ISIS has been a large part of Washington’s foreign policy narrative in the Middle East, but as the Syria and Iraq examples illustrate, it seems that the White House still hasn’t come up with a clear strategy in post-ISIS times.

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