What to expect from Biden’s envoy to Iran

Joe Biden has selected Robert Malley to be his envoy to Iran. There could no clearer sign that Biden’s foreign policy (or that of whoever is running the show) will be pro-appeasing the mullahs and anti-Israel.

We have written about Malley from time to time. This post (via Ed Lasky) collected some of Malley’s greatest anti-Israel hits (most of which apparently are no longer available on the internet):

Playing Into Sharon’s Hands: which absolves Arafat of the responsibility to restrain terrorists and blames Israel for terrorism. He defends Arafat and hails him as “the first Palestinian leader to recognize Israel, relinquish the objective of regaining all of historic Palestine and negotiate for a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 boundaries {and] the only Palestinian with the legitimacy to sell future concessions to his people.”

Rebuilding a Damaged Palestine: which blames Israel’s security operations for weakening Palestinian security forces (absurd on its face: terrorists filled the ranks of so-called Palestinian security forces-which, in any case, never tried to prevent terrorism) and calls for international forces to restrain the Israelis.

Making the Best of Hamas’s Victory: which called for international aid to be showered upon a Hamas-led government and for international engagement with Hamas (a group that makes clear in its Charter, its schools, and its violence its intent to destroy Israel). Malley also makes an absurd assertion: that Hamas’ policies and Israeli policies are mirror images of each other.

Avoiding Failure with Hamas: which again calls for aid to flow to a Hamas-led government and even goes so far as to suggest that failure to extend aid could cause an environmental or health catastrophe-such as a human strain of the avian flu virus!

How to Curb the Tension in Gaza: which criticizes Israel’s for its actions to recover Gilad Shalit who was kidnapped and is being held hostage in the Gaza Strip. He and co-writer Gareth Evans call Israel’s actions.

Given Malley’s animus towards Israel and his admiration for the likes of Yasser Arafat, it’s not surprising that he is sympathetic towards the Iranian regime. Sen. Tom Cotton noted that sympathy a few days ago when it became apparent that Biden would make Malley the envoy to Iran:

It’s deeply troubling that President Biden would consider appointing Rob Malley to direct Iran policy. Malley has a long track record of sympathy for the Iranian regime & animus towards Israel. The ayatollahs wouldn’t believe their luck if he is selected.

Bret Stephens raised the same concern here.

Malley is a key architect of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. In exchange for very little, that deal showered the mullahs with vast sums of money with which to pursue their goal of terrorizing and dominating the Middle East.

Malley is also said to have been instrumental in driving Obama’s pro-Iran, pro-Russia Syrian policy. I discussed this here, working off of a piece by Tony Badran of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

Even some Democrats find Malley’s views of the Middle East difficult to stomach. According to Politico, “while progressives and current and former colleagues have rallied to his defense, some Democrats have expressed private worries about some of Malley’s public comments.”

Politico quotes a former Obama administration official who says that Malley “is way too far to the left on these issues, from Iran to Israel to Syria, and it would just be unhelpful to have him in this role” as envoy to Iran.

Thus, claims that attacks on him are the ravings of “right-wingers” are false. Malley’s views on Israel and Iran fall outside the mainstream. However, they perfectly match the soft-on-Iran, hard-on-Israel thinking that dominates the Biden administration.

As noted, Malley was a key architect of Obama’s nuclear deal. Biden has made it clear that he wants to reenter that deal. It’s his right, as president, to work towards that objective, one he did not conceal during the campaign.

But Iran will, of course, demand major concessions in exchange for letting the U.S. back into the deal. The question on the mind of Malley’s critics, both Republican and Democrat, is how willing Team Biden will be to make concessions.

Considering (1) Malley’s overall record, (2) the fact that the Iran deal is his baby, and (3) his distaste for Israel, the nation most immediately threatened by Iran, the overwhelming likelihood is that Malley will be far too eager to make big concessions.

As discussed above, Malley habitually blames Israel for the behavior of terrorists like Hamas. To put it perhaps too generously, he sees Israel and Hamas as moral equivalents.

It’s reasonable to fear that he views the U.S. and Iran the same way. After all, for the past four years, U.S. policy towards Iran has been directed by Donald Trump, than whom the American left perceives no greater villain.

Every time Iran cites a grievance against Trump or against Israel (e.g. the killing of the arch-terrorist Soleimani or that Iranian nuclear scientist, both of which Malley denounced), Biden’s envoy will likely see grounds for offering another concession.

So, it appears, will Joe Biden (or whoever is running the show). Otherwise, Malley wouldn’t be the new envoy.

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