Aug 20, 2018, 6:53 PM
Who is Brian Hook?

TEHRAN, Aug. 20 (MNA) – On the eve of the 65 anniversary of the coup against the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mossadeq, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo named senior policy adviser Brian Hook as Washington’s special representative for Iran.

Hook will lead a newly established Iran Action Group to coordinate the State Department’s pressure campaign on Iran, Pompeo told a news conference on Thursday.

The appointment came despite the fact that Hook had opposed Trump’s exit from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran.

In a report on August 10, Daily Wire reported that Hook is considered by Trump loyalists to be "never Trump" because he was closely aligned with officials who were highly critical of Trump's policies during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Hook has been leading the State Department’s talks with allies in Europe and Asia to persuade them to support US sanctions and cut off Iran’s oil supplies as of November.

“The Iran Action Group will be responsible for directing, reviewing and coordinating all aspects of the State Department’s Iran-related activity, and will report directly to me,” Reuters quoted Pompeo as saying.

Hook, who was a close adviser to former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, worked with US national security advisor John Bolton on Iran sanctions while Bolton was the US Ambassador to the United Nations under Republican President George W. Bush.

He also served as an assistant secretary of state during the Bush administration and was an adviser to the Republican presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty.

According to Foreign Policy, for over a year, Hook was one of the most powerful behind-the-scenes officials at the State Department. He was one of Tillerson’s closest confidants, as career diplomats were shut out of policy deliberations and senior State Department posts went unfilled.

Tillerson’s unceremonious sacking via Twitter earlier this year was accompanied by other dismissals and resignations among senior appointees and secretary staff. But Hook survived the purge and helped shepherd Pompeo through a contentious confirmation process on Capitol Hill.

Some analysts view the announcement as more symbolism than substance. “There were no new resources, no new strategy, and no new authorities announced [for the action group],” said Brett Bruen, a former US diplomat who now runs the Global Situation Room, a Washington consulting firm.

“Instead, it should be interpreted as a typical Washington move to create the appearance of action by putting in the title,” Bruen added.

Dennis Ross, a former US official in Democratic and Republican administrations, also said Hook’s new post might be a bureaucratic maneuver.

“It creates an address within the administration for ... making the approach a more coherent one, with someone being given broader responsibility across departments to try to shape the policy,” said Ross, now a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank. “At least that would be theory.” However, some other analysts say since Trump shows no tolerance toward his opponents, the new mandate given to Hook is “strange”. They say the appointment on the anniversary of the 1953 coup shows neocons are firm to heighten economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran.

They are of the opinion that for Washington “regime change” is given priority over “change of behavior”. To back their argument, they say no matter a ruling system is despotic or not but if it bows down to wishes of Washington it is rewarded. On the contrary, they say, if a government, no matter how much popular and democratic it is, it is branded as renegade and its system should be changed.


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