Not that there's lots of reason for hope in the Middle East, (Did you see 60 Minutes on the subject? Doomed!) but at least one reason is that Obama has appointed George Mitchell as a special envoy to the region. Michell did pull off a Northern Ireland peace accord, so the man does have diplomatic game.
Alex Massie takes a good hard look at how the two conflicts match up. Conclusion: The Middle East will be much harder. But you knew that already, didn't you?