The Cable

Names: Latin America, NEA, and DoD

Latin America: Sources tell The Cable that former Clinton-era NSC official Arturo Valenzuela is likely to be tapped as assistant secretary for Western hemispheric affairs, but that he is not expected to take up the post until after the spring semester ends. Valenzuela, professor and director of Georgetown University’s Center for Latin American Studies, did ...

Latin America: Sources tell The Cable that former Clinton-era NSC official Arturo Valenzuela is likely to be tapped as assistant secretary for Western hemispheric affairs, but that he is not expected to take up the post until after the spring semester ends. Valenzuela, professor and director of Georgetown University’s Center for Latin American Studies, did not respond to a query.

Still undecided is who will get the job of NSC senior director on Latin America. Among the top contenders, Latin America watchers tell The Cable, former NSC official and veteran CIA analyst Fulton Armstrong, now an aide to Sen. Chris Dodd, and Dan Restrepo, a former aide to Lee Hamilton (an informal Obama advisor) on the House International Relations Committee now with the Center for American Progress. Neither could be reached for comment. Armstrong’s bid is said to be complicated by bureaucratic rules involving drawing a government pension while taking an executive branch salary. 

NEA: Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman is slated to to get the A/S NEA job, sources say. Feltman, a former U.S. ambassador to Lebanon said to be well liked by colleagues in the bureau, declined to comment.

DoD: Colin Kahl, a professor at Georgetown University and senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, has been tapped to become the deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East. In the position, he will help shape Defense Department policy on Iraq, Iran, and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Vikram Singh, also a fellow at CNAS and a former aide in the office of the assistant secretary of defense for global security affairs, is slated to take a job at DoD advising on Afghanistan and Pakistan issues. CNAS co-founder Michèle Flournoy was confirmed earlier this week by the Senate as undersecretary of defense for policy.

On Tuesday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs announced that Flournoy would cochair with U.S. special representative Richard Holbrooke a review panel on U.S. policy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, in coordination with veteran NSC and CIA official Bruce Riedel. Riedel, currently a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who served as the senior lead to the Obama campaign’s South Asia foreign policy team, would take a 60-day leave to conduct the review, and will report directly to President Obama and national security advisor James L. Jones, Gibbs said.

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