US President Barack Obama on Saturday named Philip Gordon as the administration’s new coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf, the White House announced.

Gordon is a foreign policy expert who served starting May 2009 as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. During the 2008 presidential campaign, he was a senior foreign policy adviser to Obama.

“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,” National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said in a statement.

“His work on international security, international economics and European and Middle Eastern Affairs make him the perfect person to coordinate our policy in this time of great challenge and opportunity in the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf.”

The appointment will take effect on March 11, only days before Obama is scheduled to visit Israel and the Middle East, and fills a key position after the confirmation of Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.