Robert Malley, former President Barack Obama's chief negotiator behind the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, otherwise known as the Iran deal, will be President Joe Biden's Special Envoy to Iran, Jewish Press reports.
Malley will once again be negotiating a deal with Iran to attempt to contain their nuclear ambitions.
The Iran deal, signed in 2015, was one of the most controversial foreign policy actions of the Obama presidency, with supporters arguing that the deal would allow Iran to grow and prosper while limiting their nuclear program to civilian purposes.
Detractors criticized the deal on multiple fronts, most notably by arguing that the regime will simply develop nuclear weapons in secret, speculating that the non-American officials who would be inspecting Iranian nuclear facilities under the deal may even look the other way at violations of the treaty.
Others have argued that whether or not the Iranian government abides by the restrictions set on their nuclear program, the lifting of sanctions would enable Iran to grow its influence across the Middle East and have more funds available to fund proxy wars and terrorism. Iran's influence over the Middle East vastly grew over the course of his presidency, while sanctions reinstated by former President Donald Trump destabilized Iran's internal politics and stifled the nation's economy.
The deal had been particularly criticized by Trump, who campaigned in part on a promise to tear up the deal. He had described it as a "disaster" and "the worst deal ever."
The Trump administration pulled out of the Iran deal entirely in May of 2018, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented evidence acquired through an intelligence operation that the Iranian government had not fully abided by the terms of the deal. Sanctions were reinstated that month, which were opposed by European countries.
Malley published an article for his NGO, the International Crisis Group, on Thursday detailing a number of "tips" he had for the Biden administration on how to avoid conflict with Iran. Among these proposals was a suggestion to rejoin the Iran deal without further stipulations regarding issues such as terrorism funding and proxy war engagement, claiming that it "could put the whole deal at jeopardy."
The International Crisis Group has published a number of articles with questionable implications for US foreign policy, including articles praising China for their "peace and security footprint in Africa," calling for China to intervene in Venezuela, and praising China for their "peace efforts" in Korea. Many of these pro-China articles were written by Canadian Michael Kovrig, who has since been imprisoned in China as part of a diplomatic spat between them and Canada.
The news of Malley's appointment has garnered criticism from Republicans, with Senator Tom Cotton tweeting that such an appointment is "deeply troubling" due to Malley's alleged "long track record of sympathy for the Iranian regime & animus towards Israel."
American academic Xiyue Wang also took to Twitter to express his disapproval with the expected appointment, describing the 2015 deal as "well-intended yet inadequate," and alleging that Malley "played no positive role in facilitating [his] release."
Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft fellow Joseph Cirincione defended Malley, arguing that attacks against him are "standard operating procedure for the pro-Likud right wing... They traffic in bullying and lies as the main elements of their policy operation."