A radical foreign policy adviser fired by President Obama years ago for meeting with the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas is back as the administration’s new czar in charge of countering the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).
The White House downplayed the new appointment by burying it deep in a press briefing delivered at a Paris hotel during the recent climate summit.
“The President recently elevated Rob Malley, the NSC [National Security Council] Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, to serve now as the Senior Advisor to the President for the Counter-ISIL Campaign in Iraq and Syria,”White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said during the briefing at the Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel and Conference Center. Before moving onto the next topic Earnest said the president has directed Malley to “support our reinvigorated diplomatic track toward a political transition in Syria…”
Malley has a well-documented history of sympathizing with extremists, which makes this appointment rather outrageous. Judicial Watch wrote about Malley last year when Obama made him the senior director at the NSC even though the president had dumped him as a foreign policy adviser for meeting with and having regular contact with Hamas, long classified a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.
Malley’s family had close ties to Yasser Arafat, founder of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Fatah movement, and Malley was an adviser in Bill Clinton’s White House. He consistently exonerates Palestinians and condemns Israel.
Over the years he has published a number of newspaper opinion pieces urging the United States to reach out and negotiate with terrorist enemies like Hamas, Hezbollah and Muqtada al-Sadr. A website that documents the networks and agendas of the political left offers details about Malley’s scary past and provides links to the egregious articles he’s published, including several co-written with Hussein Agha, a former adviser to Arafat. In 2007 Malley published an op-ed piece in a mainstream newspaper expressing strong support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a murderous tyrant who has been credited with helping ISIS rise.
Malley grew up in France and his Egyptian-born father was a key figure in Egypt’s communist party and a close friend of Arafat’s. His parents were fervently anti-Israel and huge supporters of several leftist revolutionary liberation movements, especially the Palestinian cause. Malley published a piece in a mainstream newspaper declaring that Israel was responsible for the failure of Bill Clinton’s peace talks with the Palestinians. Malley attended the 2000 event, which was held at Camp David because it was the site of the landmark 1978 Israeli-Egyptian peace accords.
Shortly after Obama got elected president Israel’s largest news site revealed that the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat reported that Hamas engaged in talks with Obama for months through his “fired” adviser. The article quotes Ahmad Yousuf, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s political advisor, saying this: “We were in contact with a number of Obama’s aides through the Internet, and later met with some of them in Gaza, but they advised us not to come out with any statements, as they may have a negative effect on his election campaign and be used by Republican candidate John McCain (to attack Obama).”
How can Americans possibly confide in Malley to help dismantle what is arguably the world’s deadliest and most brazen terrorist group? A Florida-based Jewish weekly helps answer this, albeit with another question: “With a history of dissing Israel, snuggling up to Hamas, shielding Assad, and promoting the containment of a nuclear-armed Iran, is it any surprise that Malley is Obama’s choice to spearhead the U.S. response to ISIS?”
From "Discover the Networks" on Robert Malley:
Robert Malley was born in 1963 and lived in France from 1969-80. His motherâ€”a native New Yorkerâ€”worked for the United Nations delegation of the National Liberation Front, the leftist, anti-American political party that led the independence movement in Algeria in the 1950s and early '60s. Robert's father, the late Simon Malley, was a key figure in the Egyptian Communist Party. The elder Malley was bitterly anti-Israel; a confidante of PLO leader Yasser Arafat; an inveterate critic of â€œWestern imperialismâ€; a supporter of various leftist revolutionary â€œliberation movements,â€ particularly the Palestinian cause; a beneficiary of Soviet funding; and a backer of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Robert Malley attended Yale University and in 1984 was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, where he earned a Ph.D. in political philosophy. He then went on to earn a J.D. at Harvard Law School, which he attended at the same time as Barack Obama. And in 1991â€“92, Malley clerked for Supreme Court Justice Byron White.
After his clerkship, Malley became a Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he published The Call From Algeria: Third Worldism, Revolution, and the Turn to Islamâ€”a book that charts Algeria's political evolution beginning from the turn of the 20th century.
Malley subsequently served as the U.S. National Security Councilâ€™s Director for Democracy, Human Rights, and Humanitarian Affairs from 1994-96; National Security Advisor Sandy Bergerâ€™s executive assistant from 1996-98; and President Bill Clintonâ€™s Special Assistant for Arab-Israeli Affairs from 1998-2001. In July 2000 he was a member of the U.S. peace team that participated in the Camp David Summit between Bill Clinton (who brokered the talks), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. The talks ended without an agreement.
Since 2001, Malley has written several controversial articlesâ€”some were co-authored with Hussein Agha, a former advisor to Arafatâ€”blaming Israel and exonerating Arafat for the failure at Camp David. For instance, in a July 2001 op-ed (titled â€œFictions About the Failure at Camp Davidâ€) which was published in the New York Times, Malley alleged that Israeliâ€”not Palestinianâ€”inflexibility had caused the previous year's peace talks to fail.
In an August 9, 2001 piece, â€œCamp David: The Tragedy of Errors,â€ Malley and Agha again dismissed claims that the Camp David talks had failed when â€œEhud Barakâ€™s unprecedented offerâ€ was met with â€œYasser Arafatâ€™s uncompromising no.â€ Rather, they wrote that Barak had taken an unnecessarily hard-line approach in negotiating with Arafat. According to the authors, Arafat believed that Barak was intent on â€œeither forcing him to swallow an unconscionable deal or mobilizing the world to isolate and weaken the Palestinians if they refused to yield.â€
Malleyâ€™s identification of Israel as the cause of the Camp David failure has been widely embraced by Palestinian and Arab activists around the world, by Holocaust deniers like Norman Finkelstein, and by anti-Israel publications such as Counterpunch. According to American Thinker news editor Ed Lasky, Malley â€œwas also believed to be the chief source for an article [dated July 26, 2001] by Deborah Sontag that whitewashed Arafatâ€™s role in the collapse of the peace process, an article that has been widely criticized as riddled with errors and bias.â€
Malleyâ€™s account of the Camp David negotiations is entirely inconsistent with the recollections of the key figures who participated in those talks, most notably then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, U.S. President Bill Clinton, and U.S. Ambassador Dennis Ross (Clintonâ€™s Middle East envoy). According to Ross, the peace efforts failed for one reason only: because Arafat wanted them to fail. â€œ[F]undamentally,â€ said Ross, â€œI do not believe he [Arafat] can end the conflict. We had one critical clause in this agreement, and that clause was, this is the end of the conflict. Arafatâ€™s whole life has been governed by struggle and a cause ... [F]or him to end the conflict is to end himselfâ€¦. Barak was able to reposition Israel internationally. Israel was seen as having demonstrated unmistakably it wanted peace, and the reason it [peace] wasnâ€™t â€¦ achievable was because Arafat wouldnâ€™t accept.â€
Ed Lasky enumerates and summarizes some additional Malley op-eds condemning Israel, urging the U.S. to disengage somewhat from the Jewish state, and recommending that America reach out to negotiate with its traditional Arab enemies such as Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Muqtada al-Sadr:
â€œRebuilding a Damaged Palestineâ€: This May 2002 article accuses Israelâ€™s security operations of deliberately weakening Palestinian security forces (which themselves are replete with terrorists and thus make little or no effort to prevent terrorism), and calls for international forces to keep Israel in check.
â€œMaking the Best of Hamasâ€™s Victoryâ€: In this March 2006 piece, Malley recommends that nations worldwide should establish relationships with, and send financial aid to, the Palestiniansâ€™ newly elected, Hamas-led government. He also alleges that the policies of Hamas and Israel are essentially mirror images of one another. Writes Malley: â€œThe Islamists (Hamas) ran on a campaign of effective government and promised to improve Palestiniansâ€™ lives; they cannot do that if the international community turns its back.â€ In Malleyâ€™s calculus, the Hamas victory was a manifestation of Palestinian â€œanger at years of humiliation and loss of self-respect because of Israeli settlement expansion, Arafat's imprisonment, Israel's incursions, Western lecturing and, most recently and tellingly, the threat of an aid cut off in the event of an Islamist success.â€ In addition, Malley counsels the U.S. not to â€œdiscourage third-party unofficial contacts with [Hamas] in an attempt to moderate it.â€
â€œAvoiding Failure with Hamasâ€: This April 2006 article not only advocates international aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian government, but also suggests that a failure to extend such aid could trigger an environmental or public health crisis for Palestinians.
â€œHow to Curb the Tension in Gazaâ€ (July 2006): Here, Malley and co-writer Gareth Evans condemn Israel for its militaryâ€™s efforts (in 2006) to recover Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who had been kidnapped and held hostage by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. The authors classify Israelâ€™s retaliatory actions as â€œcollective punishmentâ€ that stands in â€œviolation of international law.â€
â€œForget Pelosi: What About Syria?â€: In this April 2007 piece, Malley advocates U.S. and Israeli outreach to Syria, notwithstanding the latter's close affiliations with Hezbollah, Hamas, and al Qaeda in Iraq. He further contends that it is both unreasonable and unrealistic for Israel or Western nations to demand that Syria sever its ties with the aforementioned organizations or with Iran. Malley suggests, moreover, that if Israel were to return the Golan Heights (which it captured in the 1967 Six Day War, and again in the 1973 Yom Kippur War -- two conflicts sparked by Arab aggression) to Syrian control, Damascus would, as Lasky puts it, â€œsomehow miraculouslyâ€ pursue peace -- â€œafter they get all they want.â€
â€œContaining a Shiite Symbol of Hopeâ€: This October 2006 article advocates U.S. engagement with the fiercely anti-American Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite leader of the Mahdi Army in Iraq.
â€œMiddle East Triangleâ€: Co-written with Hussein Agha, this January 2008 piece calls for Hamas and Fatah to end their bitter disputes and to join forces in an effort to derail what the authors view as Israelâ€™s attempt to â€œperpetuate Palestinian geographic and political division.â€ Malley and Agha predict that such a strategy would prompt Hamas to: (a) abandon its longstanding quest to destroy Israel; and (b) encourage Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (a leading member of Fatah) to negotiate for a lasting peace with Israel.
â€œThe U.S. Must Look to its Own Mideast Interestsâ€: Co-written with Aaron David Miller, this September 2006 article urges the U.S. to engage with Syria and Hamas, rather than to â€œfollow Israelâ€™s lead.â€ Malley and Miller add: "A national unity government between Fatah and Hamas appears within reach, and the Europeans seem prepared to resume assistance to such a government once it takes shape. Should this happen, America shouldn't stand in the way -- regardless of whether Hamas recognizes Israel or formally renounces violence. Instead, the United States should see this as an opportunity to achieve what is achievable: a Palestinian cease-fire involving all armed organizations, a halt to all Israeli offensive military actions, and the resumption of normal economic life for the Palestinian government and people."
â€œA New Middle Eastâ€: In this September 2006 article, Malley contends that Hezbollahâ€™s infamous attacks and kidnappings targeting Israelis (two months earlier) were motivated partly by that organizationâ€™s desire to liberate Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails, and partly by pressure from Hezbollahâ€™s close allies, Syria and Iran.
In February 2004, Malley testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and recommended that the Arab-Israeli â€œRoad Map for Peaceâ€ be abandoned because neither side had confidence that the other was bargaining in good faith. As Ed Lasky writes, â€œ[Malley] advocated that a comprehensive settlement plan be imposed on the parties with the backing of the international community, including Arab and Moslem states. He anticipated that Israel would object with â€˜cries of unfair treatmentâ€™ but counseled the plan be put in place regardless of such objections; he also suggested that waiting for a â€˜reliable Palestinian partnerâ€™ was unnecessary.â€
In July 2006 Malley criticized the U.S. for allegedly remaining â€œon the sidelinesâ€ and being a â€œno-showâ€ in the overall effort to bring peace to the nations of the Middle East. Exhorting the Bush administration to change its policy of refusing to engage diplomatically with terrorists and their sponsoring states, Malley stated: â€œToday the U.S. does not talk to Iran, Syria, Hamas, the elected Palestinian government or Hizballahâ€¦. The result has been a policy with all the appeal of a moral principle and all the effectiveness of a tired harangue.â€
In 2007, Malley became a foreign policy advisor to Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama.
In January 2008, Ed Lasky observed that Malleyâ€™s overarching political objectives included â€œa radical reshaping of decades of American foreign policy and a shredding of the role of morality in the formulation of American policy.â€ â€œThese policies,â€ said Lasky, â€œwould strengthen our enemies, empower dictatorships, and harm our allies.â€
That same month, one U.S. security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, stated that Malley â€œhas expressed sympathy to Hamas and Hezbollah and [has] offered accounts of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that don't jibe with the facts.â€
At that time, Malley was the Middle East and North Africa Program Director for the International Crisis Group (ICG), which receives funding from the Open Society Institute (whose founder, George Soros, serves on the ICG Board and Executive Committee). In his capacity with ICG, Malley directed a number of analysts based in Amman, Cairo, Beirut, Tel Aviv, and Baghdad. These analysts reported periodically on the political, social and economic factors which they believed had the potential to spark conflict in those regions, and they made policy recommendations in an effort to defuse such threats. Covering events from from Iran to Morocco, Malleyâ€™s team focused most heavily on the Arab-Israeli conflict, the political and military developments in Iraq, and Islamist movements across the Middle East.
On May 9, 2008, the Barack Obama presidential campaign was forced to sever its ties with Malley after the latter told the Times of London that he had been in regular contact with Hamas as part of his work for ICG.
On November 5, 2008, Middle East Newsline reported that Obama â€œhad sent senior foreign-policy advisor Robert Malley to Egypt and Syria over the last few weeks to outline the Democratic candidateâ€™s policy on the Middle East.â€ The report added that Malley had â€œrelayed a pledge from Obama that the United States would seek to enhance relations with Cairo as well as reconcile with Damascus.â€ â€œThe tenor of the messages was that the Obama administration would take into greater account Egyptian and Syrian interests,â€ said an aide to Malley.
After President Obama's 2012 reelection, he appointed Malley to serve as his senior advisor for Iraq-Iran-Syria and the Gulf states. Obama pledged, however, that Malley would have no involvement in issues related to Israel and the Palestinians.
On February 18, 2014, it was announced that Malley was formally returning to the White House to serve as a senior director at the National Security Council (NSC), where he would be in charge of managing relations between the United States and its allies in the Persian Gulf. In March 2015, Obama appointed Malley to direct the NSCâ€™s policy in relation to the entire Middle East, including Israel.
Malley has been a member of J Street's advisory council for a number of years.