Amid rising demands that the president step up the campaign against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, the administration announced Monday it will appoint the chief negotiator of the Iran nuclear deal to advise President Barack Obama on how to confront ISIS. In his new role, Rob Malley is likely to face criticism for brokering the Iran deal opposed by Israel and Republicans, and for past remarks on Palestinian-Israeli issues.
Malley was named the White House's senior director for Iran, Iraq, Syria and the Gulf States in April. At the time, National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Malley was "already one of my most trusted advisers" and "one of our country’s most respected experts on the Middle East" in a statement announcing his appointment.
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) November 30, 2015
Malley was appointed in October 1998 by then-President Bill Clinton to help oversee Arab-Israeli talks. He was later attacked by some pro-Israel critics for saying that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was not solely to blame for the failure of the 2000 Camp David talks hosted by Clinton.
Before returning to the White House to work with the Obama administration, Malley directed the Middle East Program at the International Crisis Group in New York between 2001 and 2014. He was criticized while at the think tank for meeting multiple times with Hamas officials.
Obama names NSC senior director Rob Malley his "senior adviser on the counterinsurgency campaign against ISIL" (so we have an ISIL czar?)
— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) November 30, 2015
Earlier this month, Malley conceded that the administration would not work toward a Palestine-Israel settlement during the remainder of Obama's term. He said that for the first time in two decades, an American administration “faces the reality” that a solution to the intractable conflict “is not in the cards."
The Iran deal approved earlier this year curbs Tehran's nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.