State Mideast news: Feltman to head NEA, Mitchell deputies
As expected, President Barack Obama today announced his intent to nominate Jeffrey Feltman, the acting assistant secretary of State’s Near Eastern affairs bureau and a former U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, to be the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. Feltman, a career Foreign Service officer, assumed his current position as the principal deputy ...
As expected, President Barack Obama today announced his intent to nominate Jeffrey Feltman, the acting assistant secretary of State’s Near Eastern affairs bureau and a former U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, to be the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs.
Feltman, a career Foreign Service officer, assumed his current position as the principal deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Near Eastern Affairs in February 2008, a White House press release said. Since the December retirement of David Welch, he has also served as acting assistant secretary of the bureau. Since joining the Foreign Service in 1986, Feltman has served in Beirut, Irbil, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Budapest, Tunis, and Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Last month, Feltman went with the NSC’s Dan Shapiro to Damascus for meetings with Syrian foreign ministry officials.
Sources told The Cable that Frederick Hof is expected to get into place at the State Department as the deputy to U.S. Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell next week. Hof is not expected to travel with Mitchell on his trip to the region later next week. (The NSC’s Shapiro is expected to travel with Mitchell). Their itinerary is expected to include meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, as well as other stops. Mitchell is not expected to go to Damascus at this time, a Washington think tank Iran hand said.
Mitchell has been spending much of the past two weeks on the Hill, a Washington Middle East hand said. He noted that the State Department declared Mitchell’s forthcoming trip to the region Monday about the same time as Obama strongly re-asserted his administration’s commitment to the two state solution in speeches in Turkey, following remarks disparaging the validity of the Annapolis peace process by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
"I think Barack Obama’s statement in Turkey, followed hours later by the announcement of Mitchell’s trip," is no coincidence, the Washington Middle East expert said. "They didn’t have to announce it at the same time. It was a pointed rejoinder" to Netanyahu’s failure to distance himself from Lieberman’s remarks, he said.
Meantime, multiple sources said that NSC chief of staff Mara Rudman was likely to go work for Mitchell, either as a deputy or as his chief of staff. (Rudman accompanied Mitchell on his trip to the region last month). She didn’t respond to a query. Also expected to possibly be sent to Jerusalem for Mitchell at the end of the summer is principal deputy assistant secretary of state for the NEA bureau David Hale. Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, who has been in charge of efforts to build the capacity of the Palestinian security forces, has reportedly been asked by Mitchell to stay on for another two years.