(TELEGRAPH) — Barack Obama is a “dithering” president whose controlling tendencies and extreme risk-averse attitude to foreign policy has damaged US interests in the Middle East, according to a new book by a senior former State Department adviser.

The insider-account of the damaging divisions between the White House and the State Department comes as diplomats around the world wait to see if John Kerry, the new US secretary of state, can persuade Mr Obama to greater engagement on Syria, Egypt and the wider Middle East.

Vali Nasr, a university professor who was seconded in 2009 to work with Richard Holbrooke, Mr Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, records his profound disillusion at how a “Berlin Wall” of domestic-focused advisers was erected to protect Mr Obama.

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