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Biden’s Controversial Iran Envoy Choice

March 24th, 2021 13:47

US media report­ed in Feb­ru­ary on the con­tro­ver­sy sur­round­ing the appoint­ment of Robert Mal­ley as the Biden Admin­is­tra­tion envoy to Iran. Accord­ing to the New York Times report:

Feb­ru­ary 13, 2021 Pres­i­dent Biden had man­aged to assem­ble his for­eign pol­i­cy team with remark­ably lit­tle trou­ble — until last week. His picks to lead the State and Defense Depart­ments, and to fill senior intel­li­gence posts, drew lit­tle con­tro­ver­sy and almost no Repub­li­can oppo­si­tion. But a polit­i­cal cross­fire erupt­ed when the Biden admin­is­tra­tion announced the selec­tion of Robert Mal­ley to be its envoy for Iran. The choice of Mr. Mal­ley, a long­time diplo­mat and con­flict medi­a­tor, instant­ly res­ur­rect­ed a bit­ter Wash­ing­ton debate about the 2015 Iran nuclear deal abro­gat­ed by Pres­i­dent Don­ald J. Trump and whether to restore it. It also inflamed the sen­si­tive pol­i­tics of Israel and, for good mea­sure, served as a test case for the influ­ence of pro­gres­sives in Mr. Biden’s new for­eign pol­i­cy team.

Read the rest here.

The NYT goes on to describe some of the con­tro­ver­sy sur­round­ing Malley:

…Mr. Mal­ley, the son of a Jew­ish Arab left­ist, is a well-known advo­cate for engag­ing with groups and gov­ern­ments — includ­ing, over the years, Hamas, Hezbol­lah and Pres­i­dent Bashar al-Assad of Syr­ia — wide­ly con­sid­ered ene­mies of the Unit­ed States and Israel and, by some, moral­ly off lim­its for con­tact. To his crit­ics, he is over­ly sus­pi­cious of Amer­i­can pow­er and over­ly sym­pa­thet­ic to for­eign actors includ­ing Iran and the Pales­tini­ans who have deep dis­putes with the West.

Mal­ley had been an infor­mal advis­er to Obama’s 2008 cam­paign but resigned after it emerged he had met with Hamas rep­re­sen­ta­tives while work­ing for the Inter­na­tion­al Cri­sis Group (ICG). To accept his cur­rent appoint­ment, Mal­ley stood down his role as ICG Pres­i­dent & Chief Exec­u­tive Offi­cer after hold­ing var­i­ous posts at ICG for near­ly two decades. Dur­ing Malley’s tenure, the ICG was notably sup­port­ive of the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood. For exam­ple, in a 2017 report, the ICQ called the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood an “ide­o­log­i­cal and polit­i­cal coun­ter­weight to jihadism.” Oth­er report­ing by the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood Dai­ly Watch  on the ICG, and the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood includes:

  • A 2007 report on the Hamas/Muslim Broth­er­hood con­nec­tion of Al Jazeera Gen­er­al Man­ag­er Wad­dah Khan­far, a cur­rent ICG board mem­ber.
  • A 2008 report that the ICG has rec­om­mend­ed that the Egypt­ian Mus­lim Broth­er­hood be inte­grat­ed into Egypt­ian polit­i­cal life.
  • A 2015 report that Anwar Ibrahim had been a mem­ber of the ICG board. Ibrahim is known to have many ties to the Glob­al Mus­lim Brotherhood.