"There's a sense the US is not doing what it set out to do," says Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington. "The president says he's going to do things, and those things don't happen."
The standout example of the gulf between rhetoric and reality is Obama's lofty speech in Cairo in June 2009 – in which he talked about a new beginning in US relations with the Arab and Muslim worlds, based on mutual respect and understanding.
But it's hardly the only example. On his second full day in office, Obama named former Sen. George Mitchell as his Mideast envoy, raising high hopes. But after scant progress, Mr. Mitchell resigned this past May.