"Obama promised he would solve the Arab-Israeli conflict for good, not just push ahead with the process. But in fact he's just pushing ahead with the process," says Joshua Landis, director of the University of Oklahoma's Center for Middle East Studies and a renowned expert on Syria. "And as long as that happens, things are going to be bad."
According to a recent poll conducted by YouGov, 60 percent of Arabs now believe Obama is too weak to deliver a peace agreement. (The poll also found that 58 percent believe Obama has good intentions.) Landis says Obama quickly realized the political costs of a commitment to a two-state solution and backed off. That is now costing the US dearly in its relations with regional allies such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which have already begun distancing themselves from some US policies.
"At the end of the day, if we look at Obama's harvest in the Middle East, we've lost friends, we haven't gained them," he says.
'People are still listening to the US'
Such a dim view of Obama's performance is not universal, however. Amr Hamzawy, research director at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, Lebanon, contends the Obama administration has done well on many of its promises. On the peace process, "given the conditions on the ground, the administration has done well," he says.
Mr. Hamzawy also points out that in Iraq, elections were held and the US is sticking to its timeline for withdrawal of combat troops. On Iran, the administration attempted engagement, as it had pledged, before it turned to sanctions.