Ever since the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria took control of the Iraqi city of Fallujah earlier this month, critics of President Obama's foreign policy have tried to blame this new upsurge of extremist violence on his policies in the region.
No American president has ever begun a year with as many different foreign policy crises as Obama now faces. It would be understandable if he took one look at this list and remained in Hawaii playing golf.
Obama's passive foreign policy toward the Shi'a-led governments in Iran, Iraq, and Syria will ignite a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, reduce U.S. influence abroad, and further endanger global security.
The only country in the region that seems to bear much resemblance to its pre-Obama self is Iraq, where violence has reached its highest level in half a decade.
Twelve years after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban and a decade after the misguided invasion of Iraq, Washington's actual standing in country after country, including its chief allies in the region, has never been weaker.
By losing our influence with Cairo, the United States is on a path to becoming marginalized in this critical part of the world. Leaders in other American allies, including Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia are frustrated by Washington's unwillingness to assist itself in the Middle East.
Restoring some measure of balance to the Syrian civil war may be sensible, but simply supporting "acceptable" rebel factions with the vague goal of perpetuating the conflict or to achieve a "victory" over the Assad regime is short-sighted and could prove disastrous for U.S. policy in the Middle East.
Enough has been said about President Obama's speech on counter-terror last Thursday. There's a broader scope for this speech and the implied policy changes, however, which hasn't earned much comment, and that is the long and increasingly sad history of U.S. policy in the Middle East.
Obama has repeatedly called for other Middle Eastern governments to respect free expression, and he should do the same with the UAE.
Those intoxicated by Obama's rhetoric will soon experience a painful hangover. For the president's Israel speech and the rest of his Middle East trip were focused, first and foremost, on domestic politics here in the United States.
We just passed the second anniversary of the Syrian uprising that began in March 2011 and the situation inside Syria and in the region is reaching catastrophic proportions. This must stop.
Tthe best Obama can do, in the short term, is attempt to speak directly to both peoples reasserting his commitment to them and to a peaceful future in an effort to change the discourse in both societies away from the cynicism and hardline views that have made progress toward peace so difficult.
The furious protests that have toppled autocrats and roiled politics across North Africa and the Middle East for the past two years will enter a new phase in 2013.
Will Obama 2.0 finally admit that Washington doesn't need regime change in Tehran to improve its relationship with that country?
With the election now over, President Barack Obama will be forced to turn his attention back to the prickly and unpredictable foreign policy challenge posed by the Middle East.
President Obama on a number of occasions has publicly stated, "I have Israel's back." I don't know what that means in practice. I believe he should publicly state that an attack by Iran on Israel would be considered an attack on the U.S.