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Report: Obama Sends Advisor Malley to Cozy Up to Egypt and Syria

Obama said that Robert Malley would play no formal role but he reportedly already went to Syria, Egypt, with promises of reconciliation and F-16s.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 11/9/2008, 10:42 PM

According to a report on Middle East Newsline, President-elect Barack Obama has dispatched his "senior foreign policy adviser", Robert Malley to Egypt and Syria to outline Obama's policy on the Middle East.
 
Malley reportedly relayed a promise from Obama that the United States would seek to enhance relations with Cairo and reconcile differences with Damascus.

"The tenor of the messages was that the Obama administration would take into greater account Egyptian and Syrian interests," an aide to Malley was quoted as saying. The aide said Obama plans to launch a U.S. diplomatic initiative toward Syria. Malley met both Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad "to explain Obama's agenda for the Middle East."

F-16s for Egypt
Aides to Malley also said that Obama told Mubarak that the United States would maintain military and civilian aid and sell advanced F-16 aircraft to Cairo. Egypt has not ordered F-16s in nearly a decade.

Malley was an advisor to President Bill Clinton and played an active role in the Camp David summit with Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat. He later published an article in which he laid some of the blame for the failure of those talks on Israel's doorstep.

International Crisis Group
In May 2008, Malley said in an interview that he had been in regular contact with Hamas, as part of his work for a conflict resolution think-tank called the International Crisis Group. This aroused ire and concern in pro-Israel circles, and prompted a spokesman for Obama to say that “Rob Malley has, like hundreds of other experts, provided informal advice to the campaign in the past. He has no formal role in the campaign and he will not play any role in the future.”

One of the sponsors of the International Crisis Group is billionaire George Soros, who sits on its board and its executive committee. Other members of the board include former United States National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and former general Wesley Clark, who called US support for Israel during the Second Lebanon War a "serious mistake" and said that "New York money people" - a phrase interpreted by many as a reference to Jews - were pushing the United States towards a confrontation with Iran.