Rob Malley for Special Envoy to Iran

President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken are considering seasoned diplomat and Middle East expert Rob Malley as U.S. Special Envoy to Iran. But Iran hawks are pitching a fit. Sign the petition telling Biden and Blinken not to be intimidated or swayed by the pro-war faction. Let them know that peace-loving Americans support the appointment of Malley.

Dear President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken, 

We write to you in support of Robert Malley becoming the next U.S. Special Envoy to Iran. As you know, Malley is the ideal person to secure diplomatic re-engagement with Iran and swiftly get the U.S. and Iran back into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). 

Under the Obama administration, Malley served as Special Assistant to the President; White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf region; and Senior Adviser for the Counter-ISIL Campaign. He was the lead White House negotiator in the 2015 talks that secured the JCPOA. During the Trump administration, he continued advocating for the JCPOA, including in 2019 meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif while Zarif was in New York to attend the UN General Assembly.

When then-President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the JCPOA, Malley was a strong critic of the decision. He sought to preserve hope that war could be avoided and the deal revived. “To date, Iran’s steps have not been irretrievable,” Malley told the Washington Post in March 2020. After the November 2020 U.S. elections, Malley wrote: “the new U.S. administration could calm one of the world’s most dangerous standoffs, notably by returning to the 2015 nuclear deal.” 

Malley understands the devastating effect on Iranians of the Trump administration sanctions and the extreme failure of Trump’s maximum pressure campaign. While causing immense suffering and death in Iran, the sanctions resulted not in a new deal but in Iran growing their nuclear program and number of ballistic missiles. Under Trump, the Middle East became even more fraught with conflict and awash in weapons. 

Malley understands that reentering the JCPOA must be undertaken swiftly. Iranian presidential elections are scheduled for June and predictions are that a new hardline candidate will win. And the Biden administration is already facing opposition from Saudi Arabia and Israel. Malley is especially well-positioned to undertake these challenges as he is an expert on Israel/Palestine. Malley served as Special Assistant to President Clinton, helping organize the 2000 Camp David Summit and advocating for diplomatic for a” just solution” for Palestinian refugees. In the last months of Trump’s presidency, Israel undertook dangerous actions hoping to make it as difficult as possible for Biden to reengage diplomatically with Iran, including the assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist. As such, Malley’s expertise on Israel will be an asset as the U.S. works to reenter the JCPOA.

Critics of Malley, such as Iran hawk Senator Tom Cotton, are working overtime in an attempt to smear him. False claims are being made that Malley cares nothing for the human rights struggles of Iranian civil society and has an “animus towards Israel.” However, prominent Jewish-American organization JStreet refutes this, stating that  Malley’s career has been spent “advancing diplomacy and peace in the Middle East.” 

Perhaps no foreign policy issue that the Biden administration will be addressing will more pressing and delicate than re-engagement with Iran. It is crucial that the members of the Biden team addressing the challenge be experienced, have a deep and nuanced understanding of Middle East issues, and be committed to diplomacy. No person better fits that bill than Robert Malley. Please do not be swayed by those who want to scuttle negotiations with Iran. Appoint Malley to be the U.S. Special Envoy to Iran. 


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