Belmont Club

The return of Robert Malley

Robert Malley, a former Clinton official specializing in Middle Eastern affairs, was criticized during the recent Presidential campaign for being an anti-Israeli activist. Martin Peretz of the New Republic called him a “rabid hater of Israel. No question about it”.

On May 9, 2008, the campaign severed ties with Malley when the British Times reported that Malley had been in discussions with the militant Palestinian group Hamas, listed by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization. In response, Malley told The Times he had been in regular contact with Hamas officials as part of his work with the International Crisis Group. “My job with the International Crisis Group is to meet with all sorts of savory and unsavory people and report on what they say. I’ve never denied whom I meet with; that’s what I do,” Malley told NBC News, adding that he informs the State Department about his meetings beforehand and briefs them afterward.

Despite the Obama campaign stating that Malley would not “play any role in the future”, as of the end of the 2008 US Presidential election, Malley is described as a “senior foreign policy advisor”.

Today, Arutz Sheva reported that the man who would not “play any role in the future” was dispatched by the President elect to the Middle East to outline Obama’s policy in the Middle East.

According to a report on Middle East Newsline, President-elect Barack Obama has dispatched his “senior foreign policy adviser”, Robert Malley to Egypt and Syria to outline Obama’s policy on the Middle East.

Malley reportedly relayed a promise from Obama that the United States would seek to enhance relations with Cairo and reconcile differences with Damascus.

“The tenor of the messages was that the Obama administration would take into greater account Egyptian and Syrian interests,” an aide to Malley was quoted as saying. The aide said Obama plans to launch a U.S. diplomatic initiative toward Syria. Malley met both Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad “to explain Obama’s agenda for the Middle East.”

Nowhere is the United States more deeply hated than Egypt and Syria. The interesting question is whether the “greater account” given to these countries by Malley will come at the expense of one of the few countries in the region in which the US is popular.

See previous post my previous post about the Principal-Agent problem and my comment in “Tanned, rested and ready” about marbles in urns.

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