Sent to you by Sean McBride via Google Reader: UPDATE: Washington
Institute Reports Bigger Role for Ross via by admin on
The matchless Nelson Report has updated the news about the prospective
appointment of Dennis Ross as Special Envoy for Iran, and the update is
even more concerning than the original report. Chris Nelson apparently
got hold of an internal memo from the Washington Institute for Near
East Policy (WINEP) in which its director, Robert Satloff, outlines
Ross’ much-expanded job description. It reads as if Ross will be a sort
of Middle East “czar”. Here it is, as quoted in the Report:

To: Members of the Board of Trustees
From: Chairman Fred Lafer, President Howard Berkowitz, and Executive
Director Robert Satloff
Re: Ambassador Dennis Ross to Join Obama Administration

We are delighted to share the news that Ambassador Dennis Ross,
counselor and Ziegler Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute,
has accepted an invitation to join the Obama administration as
ambassador-at-large and senior advisor to Secretary of State-designate
Hillary Clinton.

In that seventh-floor job, designed especially for him, Ambassador Ross
will be the secretary’s top advisor on a wide range of Middle East
from the Arab-Israeli peace process to Iran. Ambassador Ross will not
reprise his previous role as special Arab-Israeli peace envoy, a post
will be held by someone else; rather he will be working closely with
the special envoy and the secretary. Ambassador Ross is expected to take
his post immediately after inauguration.

We know you share our pride in Ambassador Ross’s achievements, which
reflect not only his outstanding contribution to U.S. foreign policy,
also the Institute’s unique role in supporting those who can advance
and security in the Middle East.

Needless to say, if the memo is genuine (and I have no doubt that it
is) and accurate, Ross’ appointment marks a major setback for those who
had hoped that Obama might bring some fresh thinking to Middle East
policy, particularly vis-a-vis Iran and Israel-Palestine.

P.S. Haass has vigorously denied that he has been offered the
Israel-Palestinian portfolio, although I’ve heard the denials are not
entirely persuasive. If Haass indeed does not get it, then Dan Kurtzer,
who served as a close adviser to Obama during the campaign, would be
considered the most likely choice at this point, although Martin Indyk
would, I imagine, be far more compatible with Ross. Indeed, neither
Kurtzer nor Haass may find the job particularly inviting if they have
to report through Ross to Clinton and the White House.

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