Robert Malley will be tasked with finding a way to deal with Iran again after Trump escalated tensions.
The Biden administration is expected to name Robert Malley, former senior foreign policy adviser to then-President Barack Obama, as its special envoy on Iran, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday.
President Joe Biden’s appointment of Malley could be announced as early as Thursday or Friday, one of the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
When Malley’s name first appeared in reports as the lead candidate for the post, he drew criticism from some Republican lawmakers and pro-Israel groups who expressed concern that he would be gentle on Iran and tough on Israel. But a number of veterans of foreign policy have rushed to defend it.
The message will put Malley at the forefront of one of Biden’s most formidable foreign policy challenges: finding a way to deal with Iran after years of deteriorating relations under former President Donald Trump. The Diplomatic News website was the first to report on Malley’s planned appointment.
Malley served under Obama and was a key part of the team that negotiated the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and the world powers, a deal Trump withdrew in 2018.
He has held numerous high-level positions for the Democratic administrations of Obama and former President Bill Clinton, with a focus on policymaking in the Middle East and the Gulf.
Most recently, he was President of the International Crisis Group, a nonprofit organization focused on global conflicts.
Trump unilaterally withdrew from the Iranian nuclear pact as his administration pursued a strategy of “maximum pressure” against Tehran. Since then, Iran has started to enrich uranium at a faster rate, approaching the possibility of building a nuclear weapon.
New Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the Biden administration will seek to renew the nuclear deal with a “longer and stronger deal” than the UN-backed deal with Iran.
Blinken also said the new administration wanted the war in Yemen to end.
U.S. Republicans in Congress oppose restoring Biden’s desired diplomacy with Iran, which will add to the complications Malley would have to navigate.
Relations between the United States and Iran have been extremely strained since the US assassination on Trump’s orders of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in January 2020.