The State Department of the USA sends special representatives throughout the world. The envoy ranges from the US Senate-appointed officials to ambassadors or officers from the State Department. They are responsible for overseeing an issue or executing a foreign policy in the area where they are commissioned. The special envoys' job responsibilities are fluid and are subject to changes depending on the region and the issue. They can secure meetings and talks with high-level officials and foreign diplomats of the host nation, thus smoothening the diplomacy process and representing the State Department.
Robert Malley is the Special Envoy appointed to Iran by President Biden. He was assigned to the Iran Action Group. In 2018, the former US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, created the group. The primary function is coordinating and executing the USA’s foreign policy in Iran. The tune of foreign policy changed when former President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal. Robert Malley ascended to the position formerly held by Brian Hook. Under the Iran Action Group, Hook commented in press releases that sanctions abound for Iran if it failed to comply with the USA’s guidelines on nuclear deals. Fast forward to 2023, the incumbent head of the group faces security clearance investigations.
The spokesperson for the State Department, Mathew Miller, commented that Robert Malley is on leave, and Abram Paley has assumed the responsibilities as the acting Special Envoy for Iran. Malley, as a diplomatic officer, has been crucial for the American government. After the USA withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal, Malley attempted to revive and smoothen the situation under President Biden. He also negotiated the release of some Americans detained in Iran. News reports differ on the reason for Malley’s unpaid leave. He was helping the State Department to negotiate with Iran on the nuclear deal when the investigations began.
The State Department released the testimony of Robert Malley during his questioning by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Robert Malley begins the testimony by mentioning that Iran threatens the USA’s national security and Israel, one of its allies. He talks about Iran’s refusal to cooperate with international law, providing a haven to terrorist groups. Iran has a history of detaining foreign nationals to use as political trump cards. He emphasizes that President Biden’s administration is making commendable efforts to limit Iran’s nuclear weapons program. He summarizes the testimony with the lessons the USA has learned dealing with Iran spanning two administrations of Trump and Biden. Malley ends his testimony by stating that the government must ensure that the USA should take the necessary steps to isolate Iran, not itself.
Clearance is a complex and lengthy process that a candidate must clear before working with the US government. Officials of the State Department kept the investigation under wraps. Investigations of such high-level officers draw waves of media attention. Only after the inquiry concludes the State Department will be able to give a definite answer if Robert Malley was involved in leaking classified documents. Investigations like this are not uncommon, but the involvement of a potentially hostile state is rare.
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