x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

US names Philip H Gordon as new adviser for Mena region

Mr Gordon is a longtime fixture of the Washington foreign policy community and a critic of US support for Israel in the 2006 Lebanon war, which he called 'a disaster'. Elizabeth Dickinson reports

ABU DHABI // The White House has named a new top policy coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf.

Philip H Gordon, former assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, will take up his post on March 11, the American national security adviser, Tom Donilon, announced on Saturday.

"Phil has been a key member of president Obama's foreign policy team for the past four years, and his work with our European allies and partners has been indispensable in helping us to formulate policy and address issues around the globe, including Libya, Syria and Iran," Mr Donilon said.

Mr Gordon is a longtime fixture of the Washington foreign policy community, having previously served as an adviser to Barack Obama's presidential campaign and director of European affairs at the National Security Council under the former president, Bill Clinton.

Although his past work has focused on Europe, Mr Gordon has often commented on regional issues.

In 2008, while a fellow at the Brookings Institution, he said of the Iraq War that it was "just about impossible to argue on a sort of cost-benefit analysis that it has been worth it" for the United States.

Mr Gordon was equally critical of the US support for Israel in the 2006 Lebanon war, which he called "a disaster".

"The US must think more carefully about the broader effect of its Middle East diplomacy, even if at times this means taking a different position from its closest regional ally," he wrote in the Financial Times in August 2006. "This would be the best way to help Israel, which would benefit from having a superpower friend that maintains some credibility and diplomatic influence in the Middle East."

More recently, Mr Gordon has been involved in coordinating with major US allies in Europe on key foreign policy issues such as Libya in the post-Arab Spring environment, Mr Donilon said.

At the beginning of the first Obama administration, Mr Gordon was also involved in the so-called foreign policy "reset" with Russia, which was aimed easing friction between Washington and Moscow - an experience that may prove helpful as the US struggles to reconcile policy differences with Russia over ways to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Syria.

edickinson@thenational.ae