In 2017 the Islamic State group was driven from its last strongholds in Iraq and Syria at an enormous cost, Pakistanis broke their silence to speak about sexual abuse in Islamic schools, and the U.S. declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel ignited widespread protests.
Associated Press photographers across the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan documented war and unrest from the front lines of the region’s conflicts, including in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is battling Iranian-allied rebels and where its blockade on the Arab world’s poorest country has crippled infrastructure and given rise to a cholera epidemic.
The array of forces lined up against ISIS finally drove the group from the Syrian city of Raqqa, the capital of its self-styled caliphate, and Mosul in northern Iraq, the largest city ever held by the extremists.
ISIS no longer holds any significant territory in either country, but affiliates elsewhere in the region, particularly in Egypt and Afghanistan, continue to sow mayhem, and IS still inspires radicals elsewhere, such as the Bangladeshi immigrant who set off an explosive device in New York City’s subway system earlier this month.
Syria’s civil war is meanwhile far from over, though de-escalation agreements brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran have largely frozen the battle lines and reduced violence in much of the country.
In Pakistan, an AP investigation found pervasive sexual abuse in the country’s Islamic schools, which educate some 2 million students. Families had long remained silent, fearing the country’s powerful religious establishment. Courts often allow accused clerics to settle allegations by paying “blood money” to the families of victims.
In Washington, meanwhile, President Donald Trump broke with decades of American foreign policy by declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel and vowing to move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv. The move was met with near-worldwide condemnation, including from close U.S. allies, who warned it could deal a final blow to long-stalled peace efforts. Israel considers the entire city its unified capital, while the Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
The following is a selection of some of the best AP images from yet another tumultuous year in the Middle East, curated by Middle East Regional Photo Editor Maya Alleruzzo.