Biden taps ex-envoy to UAE as Middle East director on NSC

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

The Biden transition team has appointed former US ambassador Barbara Leaf to serve as special assistant to the president and senior director for Middle East and North Africa affairs on the National Security Council.

Leaf served as US envoy to the United Arab Emirates during both the Obama and Trump administrations from 2014 to 2018. More recently, she was a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which has gained a reputation as a pro-Israel think-tank.

She will hold the Middle East file on President-elect Joe Biden’s NSC along with coordinator Brett H. McGurk, another national security veteran who served in both Democrat and Republican administrations.

In a November interview with The The Times of Israel, she said the last-minute batch of sanctions imposed by the Trump administration against the Iranian regime was meant to “tie the next administration’s hands.” Biden has said he plans to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal, so long as Iran returns to strict compliance with it. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come out vociferously against such a strategy.

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