ADC and AMC Oppose Possible Appointment of WINEP’s Robert Satloff to NSC
Washington, D.C., March 16 — In a letter to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Hala Maksoud, President of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the largest Arab-American membership organization in the United States, and Aly R. Abuzakouk, Executive Director of the American Muslim Council (AMC), the largest American Muslim membership organization in the United States, expressed concern at reports in the press that Robert Satloff, the Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), is being considered for the position of Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of the Near East and South Asia Office at the National Security Council.
The leaders of ADC and AMC opposed the possible appointment noting that “WINEP is a spin-off of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the principle arm of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington.” They pointed out that in his capacity as WINEP‘s Executive Director, “Mr. Satloff must be regarded as one of the foremost professional advocates for Israel in the United States.” “He is therefore not suited, in our view, to bring to the Bush Administration a balanced analysis of Middle Eastern affairs,” Maksoud and Abuzakouk argued, and they urged Dr. Rice “to look for a candidate whose career reflects a balanced understanding of the issues at stake rather than an advocate for one of the regional powers.”
ADC and AMC also raised concerns that the post of Executive Director of WINEP should not become a conduit to the National Security Council, recalling that Mr. Satloff‘s predecessor at WINEP, Martin Indyk, was appointed to this same NSC position at the beginning of the first Clinton Administration. “The appearance that the National Security Council staff position on Middle East affairs is reserved for former executive directors of WINEP would send an extremely damaging signal to the Arab and Muslim world and almost certainly harm United States diplomacy in the region,” they pointed out. They also expressed concern that “a similar impression is being created in regard to the development of a ‘revolving door‘ between the Executive Branch of our government and WINEP, especially since the former Special Middle East Coordinator for the Clinton Administration, Dennis Ross, is now employed … at WINEP.” Mr. Satloff‘s appointment in this context “would only strengthen existing suspicions that the pro-Israel lobby possesses undue influence in Administrations of both parties and that, as a result, United States policy in the region is and will remain biased towards Israel,” they concluded.