HFAC staff moves

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Several recent changes and promotions underway among the House Foreign Affairs Committee minority staff.

Daniel Silverberg, formerly deputy general counsel and a former Pentagon official, has been named general counsel of the committee minority staff, following the departure of Shanna Winters for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Janice Kaguyutan was promoted to chief counsel from deputy chief counsel.

Long time HFAC top Middle East advisor Alan Makovsky has left the committee staff, with plans to go teach in Turkey, according to two Hill staffers. His deputy Robert Marcus is expected to succeed him as top Middle East advisor upon his return from paternity leave, staffers say.

Daniel Harsha, recently back from paternity leave, has been made communications director.

Jason Steinbaum was named as staff director in January, after former Rep. Howard Berman’s staff director went over to Senate Homeland Security.

Meantime, two HFAC staffers have joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) staff: arms sales and non proliferation advisor David Fite, and former communications director Adam Sharon.

Staffers are overall upbeat about the committee, and say relations between chair Ed Royce (R-California) and ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (D-New York), are relatively smooth and professional.

Engel, in a letter Monday, critiqued the military options for Syria presented by top army officer Gen. Martin Dempsey, suggesting the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff may have overstated the costs and risks of limited air strikes.

“Your letter states that conducting limited stand-off strikes….would require ‘hundreds of aircraft, ships, submarines, and other enablers” and that “the costs would be in the billions.,’” Engel wrote in the letter to Dempsey.

“While I do not profess to be a military expert, it is clear that this analysis does not fully reflect an even more limited option that some have advocated, which would involve cruise missile or other stand-off weapon strikes on regime-controlled air bases,” he continued.

Engel, in an interview with Al-Monitor (August 2), also vigorously defended new Iran sanctions legislation that he cosponsored that passed in the House last week—even as the Obama administration has sought to explore openings for advancing negotiations for a nuclear deal under Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani.

“I am of the opinion that it is only the sanctions that just might make, and I don’t say will make… them decide that it is time to stop their nuclear program and cut a deal,” Engel told Al-Monitor's Andrew Parasiliti.