The White House on Saturday named Philip Gordon Special Assistant to the President and Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Persian Gulf, as the Back Channel first reported was in the works.
“Today, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon announced that Philip Gordon will be joining the National Security Staff as Special Assistant to the President and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf Region,” the White House said in a press statement Saturday. “He will take up his duties beginning on March 11.”
“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,” Donilon said in the statement. “His appointment further strengthens a superb team that includes Puneet Talwar, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for the Gulf States, Iran and Iraq, and Prem Kumar, Acting Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa.”
Gordon has served as Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs since 2009. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland is rumored to be in the mix to succeed Gordon as A/S for Europe.
Gordon takes up his duties as President Obama heads to Israel, Ramallah and Jordan later this month, and days after Iran and six world powers agreed to hold two more rounds of nuclear talks in Istanbul and Kazakhstan in the next few weeks.
As the Back Channel previously reported, the White House is considering naming NSS Senior Director for Europe and Eurasia Liz Sherwood-Randall to be the new coordinator for WMD and Defense, succeeding Gary Samore and newly combining the WMD and Defense portfolios. Senior directors from the previously separate departments would report to the new coordinator.
Vice President Joe Biden last week named Hillary Clinton's State Department policy planning director Jake Sullivan as OVP national security advisor. Sullivan succeeds Antony Blinken, who became President Obama's deputy national security advisor in January. Blinken succeeds Denis McDonough, who Obama named his new White House chief of staff.
(Photo: The White House on Saturday named Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon the new Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, Persian Gulf and Special Assistant to the President, effective March 11, 2013. Reuters)