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Biden crew picks Dana Stroul to guide Pentagon’s Middle East desk

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Jan 20, 2021

Dana Stroul is about to develop into the Pentagon’s senior coverage official solely targeted on the Middle East for the Joe Biden administration, two sources conversant in the matter confirmed to Al-Monitor.

Stroul, an Obama-era veteran of the workplace she has been chosen to guide, co-chaired the Syria Study Group arrange by Congress whereas she was a fellow on the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Her identify was amongst an inventory of the most recent Pentagon appointees first reported by Defense One.

Stroul beforehand labored on the US drawdown from Iraq and the Obama administration’s ties with Egypt amid the Arab Spring whereas on the Defense Department till 2013, and later joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a lead staffer with accountability for the area.

She has earned excessive reward from colleagues, together with former Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for the Middle East Michael Mulroy, who known as Stroul an “excellent choice” for the position in a press release to Al-Monitor. Mulroy added that she has “the depth of knowledge and the key relationships needed to succeed” within the place.

At the Pentagon, Stroul is about to hitch different veterans of the Obama administration. Brian Katz, a former CIA analyst who led the Syria desk on the workplace of the secretary of protection from 2016-17, is reportedly set to develop into particular assistant to the undersecretary of protection for intelligence.

Christopher Maier, whose place as director of the Pentagon’s activity drive to defeat the Islamic State (IS) was eradicated within the fall, can also be slated to return because the principal deputy assistant secretary of protection for particular operations and low depth battle.

Why it issues: Biden administration officers haven’t but articulated how they’ll match the remnants of the Mike Pompeo-era Syria coverage right into a renewed try at detente with Iran, however the newest personnel picks present some clues as to what would possibly occur. 

Earlier this month Biden named Brett McGurk, the longtime envoy to the coalition to defeat IS, as Middle East coordinator for the National Security Council. Barbara Leaf, a former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and an professional on the Gulf, was named NSC senior director for the Middle East. Robert Malley, former NSC coordinator for the Middle East and present head of the International Crisis Group, can also be reportedly into account for a lead position on Biden’s Iran coverage.

Outgoing Trump administration officers have touted supposed strategic successes of their wholesale regional coverage targeted on Iran, however critics have charged that the approach sidelined different issues within the area, together with human rights within the Gulf and lingering Islamic extremists in Syria.

As co-chair of the Syria Study Group, Stroul really useful the United States go away counter-IS forces in Syria to take care of stress on President Bashar al-Assad and proceed assist Israel’s air marketing campaign towards Iran’s proxies, whereas redoubling political efforts to deal with the 1000’s of jihadi fighters and their households detained indefinitely within the nation’s northeast. 

She and co-chair Michael Singh additionally advocated peace talks between NATO ally Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers Party to assist make sure the survival of the primary US  native companion militia towards IS in Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces. Stroul has additionally pointedly criticized the Trump administration’s approach to Iran as ineffectual, missing route and doubtlessly risking violent battle, and advocated for a larger position for US allies in pushing again on Iran’s regional affect.

What’s subsequent: President Trump pushed laborious towards his personal high advisers to drive US troops out of the Middle East to finish what he noticed as “endless wars.” In Syria and elsewhere, the president’s impulse could have lowered Washington’s already inadequate leverage to achieve its objectives.

Any enhance in US troop presence within the Middle East is more likely to stay a politically sensitive topic as Biden focuses on extraordinary crises at home, however the chance shouldn’t be discounted throughout his first a number of months in workplace.

Know More: Elizabeth Hagedorn takes an in depth have a look at hints about future regional coverage from Antony Blinken, Biden’s choose for secretary of state, throughout his Senate affirmation listening to Tuesday.

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