US media is reporting that President Obama has appointed former International Crisis Group executive as his new special assistant for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region. According to one report:
March 8, 2015 The White House has appointed Robert Malley as a new special assistant to President Barack Obama for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region.
Malley, who now works as Senior Director of National Security Council of the White House (NSC) on Iran, Iraq, Syria and the Gulf countries, will start his work in the new position on April 6, succeeding the retiring Philip Gordon, RIA Novosti reports.
In a statement, Susan Rice said Gordon ‘is leaving the White House to spend more time with his family and to carry out other professional endeavors. A a better replacement for Phil than Rob just cannot be found, he is one of the most respected experts in our country, who from February 2014 played a key role in shaping our policy on Iran, Iraq and the Gulf countries.’
Malley worked for Obama in his first run for president as a foreign policy advisor. He was later fired or meeting with the Palestinian group Hamas, which the U.S. State Department classifies as a terrorist organization. ‘He was one of literally hundreds of informal, outside advisors,’ Obama spokesman Bill Burton told ABC News.
Malley has been a criticized in the past as insufficiently supportive of Israel. In October 1998, he was appointed Special Assistant to President Clinton for Arab-Israeli Affairs, a post he held until the end of the administration in 2001. He participated in the failed 2000 Camp David accords and said that Yasser Arafat was not the only one to blame for those talks breaking down, ABC noted.
In February 2014, the GMBDW reported that President Obama had selected Robert Malley as the senior director at the National Security Council responsible for devising US policy in the Middle East. As that report noted, Mr. Malley was formerly the program director for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group (ICG). As we also noted at that time and will repeat here, there are additional serious questions about the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas within the ICG, founded in 1995 as “an international non-governmental organization on the initiative of a group of well known transatlantic figures who despaired at the international community’s failure to anticipate and respond effectively to the tragedies in the early 1990s of Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia. Notable members of the board have included former Carter National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, financier George Soros, former Nato commander Wesley Clark, and former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer. In 2008 we reported that the International Crisis Group (ICG) had issued a report recommending that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood be integrated in Egyptian political life and that Brotherhood posted a statement on its website saying that the group agrees with the recommendations.
The GMBDW has also reported since 2007 on the Muslim Brotherhood and/or Hamas background of two of the ICG Trustees which may help to explain the ICG position on the Brotherhood. Palestinian-born Wadah Khanfar is a current member of the ICG board. In 2003, Khanfar became head of the Al Jazeera Baghdad bureau and shortly thereafter became the station General Manager, serving until his resignation in 2011. A report in the Nation Magazine attributes the support by the Al Jazeera television station for Islamic movements to Khanfar’s influence. According to the Nation report, Al Jazeera coverage changed dramatically to a far more “populist/Islamist approach.” when Khanfar took over in March 2003. This change should not have been surprising given Khanfar’s background in the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. According to a report in a Mideast business publication, Wadah Khanfar was born and educated in Jordan where, consistent with a Muslim Brotherhood background, he was educated as an engineer and where he reportedly was arrested as part of the Brotherhood there. The same report indicates that he also was a student activist, organizing a student union, an activity also consistent with a Muslim Brotherhood background. In a TV interview, Khanfar stated that started his career as a journalist as an analyst on African affairs, mainly on Al Jazeera, while living in South Africa where he was doing graduate study in international politics and African studies at the time. He also described himself in the interview as “a researcher and consultant in Middle Eastern economics and political affairs.”
In 1997, Khanfar became the Al Jazeera correspondent in South Africa. However, while living in South Africa, Khanfar was also was the Director of Human Resource Development for the International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations (IIFSO), an organization closely tied to the global Muslim Brotherhood. A memo said to be a 1998 briefing document prepared for the former South African President Thabo Mbeki had long been posted on the Internet and described the IIFSO as working closely with Hamas.The memo also identified an individual called Wahdan Abu Ahmed KHUNFUR who it says was a Trustee of the Al Aqsa Foundation in South Africa as well as a Hamas contact. The Al Aqsa Foundation is one of the organizations comprising the Union of Good, the worldwide coalition of charities collecting money for Hamas and directed by global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi. The memo appears to be genuine, containing substantial detail and matching the time that Khanfar was known to be living in South Africa. It should also be noted that a Jordanian newspaper reported that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gave Qatari officials a file demonstrating Khanfar’s Hamas/Brotherhood connections and an analysis posted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs traced Mr. Khanfar’s connections to the Muslim Brotherhood:
The director general of the network, Wadah Khanfar, was a member of the organization in Jordan, where he was arrested. Today he is one of the closest advisers of the emir. Sheikh Qaradawi is also a member of the inner circle of the emir and is known to work closely with Khanfar. Both support Hamas. Arab researchers have succeeded in uncovering a number of other Brothers working for the network, but it is surmised that there are many more. The general consensus is that Yusuf al-Qaradawi is the visible tip of the iceberg. In an article published in 2003 in the London-based Arabic daily Asharq Alawsat, Maamun Fendi, a well-known Egyptian liberal thinker today living in the United States, wrote that some 50 percent of the network’s personnel belong to the Muslim Brothers. He added that their influence in Qatar was rising both in the network and among government circles. According to him, the Brothers had intended to hold their world summit in Qatar in 2003 but had to scuttle their plan when it became known. These summits are usually held in a European capital far from Arab countries, in conditions of the utmost discretion, if not secrecy.
Another former board member of the ICG is former Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim who has many ties to the global Muslim Brotherhood including helping to found the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) where he currently serves as a director, representing Asian youth and serving as a trustee for the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) during the 1970’s and early 1980’s, and appearances at numerous Brotherhood-linked conferences. His ICG bio omitted this background.