Researchers at Rice University's Baker Institute say U.S. military efforts in the Middle-East have nearly extinguished ISIS, but don't count them out just yet.
Joe Barnes, the Bonner Means Baker Fellow, says President Donald Trump has essentially followed the same policy as President Barack Obama when it comes to ISIS, yet he is viewed as much more anti-Muslim because of his travel moratorium and stance on Israel.
“The Trump statement on Jerusalem surely was unhelpful in the context of the Middle-East peace process and broader U.S.-Muslim relations, but let's also get real here, it's not as though there was a very active peace process anyway,” says Barnes.
But the physical defeat of ISIS still leaves turmoil in Syria and across the Middle East.
“A lot of these countries have very fragile economies. A lot of these countries have very little democratic mechanisms for people to express their opinions. There's lots of problems, lots and lots.”
“It's wonderful to think you have a grand strategy, but the terrible truth is that particularly in places like the Middle-East events unfortunately drive policy,” says Barnes. “There's a very famous quote, they asked British Prime Minister Herald Macmillan back in the 1950s what would upset your government's policies? And he said, 'Events dear boy, events.'”
The report is the first in a three-part series on Trump's policies in the region.