As someone who has been working on Middle East related issues for the past 10 years, I am deeply concerned with the way Trump's administration is crafting and implementing its policy towards the region. It is very difficult to make that point without sounding like a melodramatic alarmist, but the situation is dire.
Within the first six months of his term, Trump has decertified the Iran deal; has increased US support for Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen; increased deployments of special operation forces in Syria to challenge Iranian militias; and backed Riyadh’s attempt to practically take the Lebanese Prime Minister hostage. Yesterday's news of the US's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital will further fan the flames in an already explosive region. Clearly, Trump has decided to pursue a very aggressive Middle East policy to say the least. So what? That may not be a bad thing if executed properly.
You may argue that the aforementioned moves are a part of a calculated plan and can easily be justified and coordinated by the State Department or diplomats on the ground. You may say, the president's agenda is aggressive, but it will actually further US interests in the Middle East. But, who will be in charge of implementing it? The State Department will play a major role, of course!
There lies the additional major problem. The State Department is debilitated and appears to be very understaffed and ill-prepared to implement such an aggressive regional agenda. According to a recent Time report, the US has lost 60% of its career ambassadors since January. Quoting a tally by the American Foreign Service Association, a New York Times report stated that the number of those with the department’s top two ranks of career ambassador and career minister will have been cut in half by December 1, from 39 to 19. Of the 431 minister-counselors, 369 remain and another 14 have indicated that they will leave soon. So far, just 10 of the top 44 political positions in the department have been filled. The dearth of seasoned diplomats is particularity problematic when it comes to the Middle East. Currently the US has no ambassadors to Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Qatar, or Saudi Arabia. Needless to say, US has no diplomatic relations with Iran and has closed its embassies in Syria and Yemen. Back in DC, there is still no assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs. Jonathan Stevenson's post for the International Institute for Strategic Studies further elaborates on the lack of supervisory experience and expertise back in Washington.
Trump is pursuing a very provocative agenda without much diplomatic capacity to actually implement it. The "sitting on a powder keg" analogy does not even work here, since many parts of the region are already on fire.