It is also perhaps a demonstration of Obama’s very challenging efforts to establish an “equilibrium” between Shia and Sunni forces throughout the Middle East region, especially in the Gulf. Obama explicitly made such equilibrium a strategic aim in the region in his famous interview with The New Yorker’s David Remnick 14 months ago.

With a massive invasion by U.S. ground troops ruled out — for now — the debate in Washington over what to do about Islamic State militants has shifted into the realm of diplomacy and “soft power.”

Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem

Philip Seib on what the U.S. is getting wrong in the Middle East.

February 12, 2015

Does anybody remember soft power? Apparently Canada has it in abundance. It just doesn’t work. Soft power is, like so many trendy ideas in this country, an American invention.

Islamic State social media accounts are circulating disturbing and graphic images seemingly showing the executions of gay men, stoning of an alleged adulterer and other public executions. The barbaric acts of violence seem to have occurred in Iraq’s Nineveh province and Mosul.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged Saturday $2.5 billion in humanitarian and development aid for the Middle East as he launched a regional tour that includes visits to Jordan and Israel.

Supplying new weapons to Iraq and refurbishing its poorly maintained war stocks has become an urgent priority for Barack Obama’s administration after nearly half the Iraqi Army that was trained and equipped by U.S. forces before 2011 — or about 24 brigades out of 50 — unraveled last summer in the face of the Islamic State’s brutal onslaught.