The Mideast has "descended into a state of disarray unusual even for that troubled region," imperiling President Obama’s policy dreams and leaving him with limited ability to control events, says The Wall Street Journal.
The Obama administration finds itself in a "highly awkward position," says the WSJ: It's lined up against Iran in Yemen. It's trying to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran. It's working on the same side as the Iranians to defeat Islamic State fighters in Iraq.
At the same time, Obama finds his ties to Israel and Egypt, two traditional bulwarks of pro-American sentiment, under great strain.
And Obama's dream of smoothly exiting the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffered a double blow this week as U.S. planes had to spring back into action in Iraq in an attempt to push back Islamic State forces, and Obama agreed to keep in Afghanistan thousands of troops he'd hoped could leave by year’s end.
Some experts say there can't be an overarching U.S. policy in the Middle East at the moment, The New York Times reports.
The best the White House can do, those experts say, is to tailor policies according to individual crises as they flare up.
“It is messy. It is contradictory. That’s foreign policy,” says Barbara Bodine, a former U.S. ambassador to Yemen who now is director of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University.