Whether we call it “annus horribilis,” a calamitous year, or the year of the lurking snake, 2016 was a year to be forgotten. It was the year the American people gambled on randomness and ended up electing Donald Trump, the most accidental, most intemperate president imaginable. The people of Britain, who have been uncomfortably tethered to the European harbor, decided to unmoor their ship and sail into randomness. In the Levant, the modern day Mongols invaded Aleppo from the East but this time they came mostly by air and reduced the Eastern part of the city into uninhabited mountains and valleys of rubbles. The Russians turned Aleppo into the Grozny of the Levant. The year ended with the battle to liberate Mosul from ISIS which still rages on inconclusively, with the “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi outlasting President Obama. In 2016, after eight years in office Barack Obama finally mustered enough moral courage to abstain on a resolution at the United Nations Security Council condemning Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories.
The year of the autocrat
A continent in retreat
The destruction of Aleppo will embolden the autocrats and the despots in the region and beyond. This was the legacy of 2016. That is why we say good riddance to a calamitous yearHisham Melhem