State Department gets new sanctions chief

State Department gets new sanctions chief

The State Department will soon have a new coordinator for all sanctions around the world, Ambassador Dan Fried, who until now has been working on resettling prisoners from Guantánamo Bay and relocating a hard-line Iranian dissident group known as the Mujahiden-e-Khalq (MEK).

Fried is set to take over much of the sanctions portfolio from Bob Einhorn, who will stay on at the State Department and focus on nuclear diplomacy with Iran, a State Department official told The Cable. Fried will move into Einhorn’s office and start to build a new staff of about six to eight people, along with a new deputy, former National Security Council staffer Richard Nephew, the official said.

Fried’s responsibilities will not mirror Einhorn’s exactly, the official said. Whereas Einhorn dealt primarily with sanctions against Iran, North Korea, and Syria, Fried will have influence in coordinating sanctions also dealing with countries ranging from Cuba to Burma to Russia and beyond. In some cases, such as with Burma, Fried will be managing the lifting of sanctions.

"Part of the theory is that there are sanctions tucked away all over the place, so you need an office where you can pull it all together and see what works," the State Department official said. "The strategic purpose of sanctions is to not have to do them anymore."

As the New York Times reported Monday, Fried’s previous office, which worked to relocate Guantánamo prisoners to third countries, will now close. Fried’s travels around the world had resulted in the repatriation of 29 low-level prisoners to their home countries and the settlement of 40 others to third countries that were willing to take them in.

That work will now be transferred to the office of the legal advisor, the State Department official said. There is a recognition that the work of resettling Guantánamo prisoners is largely over.

"Because of the congressional restrictions, there’s not a lot of work left that can be done," the official said. "There are a few left to be transferred to third countries, but not too many."

Fried had also been instrumental in the effort to convince the MEK, which had been a State Department-designated foreign terrorist organization until last October, to move out of its secretive Iraqi home near the Iranian border, called Camp Ashraf. The MEK completed its move to Camp Liberty, a former U.S. military base near the Baghdad airport, late last year.

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman will continue to lead the diplomacy related to Iran, aided by Einhorn in his new capacity. The administration’s WMD Czar Gary Samore will leave the administration to become the executive director of Harvard’s Belfer Center, the university announced in a press release today. No replacement for Samore has been named.