Blinken will be be the new US Secretary of State under president-elect Joe Biden. Here is Blinken’s career and his approach to foreign policy.
Joe Biden chooses Antony Blinken as his US Secretary of State, according to several American media reports, as the president-elect prepares to make changes to President Donald Trump’s foreign policy.
Blinken served as deputy national security adviser in President Barack Obama’s administration when Biden was vice president.
Blinken is reportedly the primary candidate for the position - neither Biden’s transition team nor Blinken have confirmed the news. The announcement is expected on Tuesday.
Together with Blinken, Jake Sullivan, former aide to Hillary Clinton, is likely to be Biden's National Security Adviser.
These two close Democratic aides have helped Biden reformulate the US foreign policy that will include immediate outreach to US allies who have often been antagonised by Trump’s “America First” approach.
Biden will concentrate more on major global problems such as the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout.
Biden has promised to rejoin a nuclear deal with Iran if the country returns to compliance, as well as return to the Paris climate accord, abandon plans to leave the World Health Organisation and end a US rule that bans funding of aid groups that discuss abortion.
Through all this, he would reverse Trump’s policies and some could take place almost as soon as Biden would officially take office on January 20.
Who is Blinken?
Antony Blinken is a 58-year-old US official who has long served the country and touted the view that the United States needs to take an active leadership role in the world.
People familiar with his management describe him as a “diplomat’s diplomat,” who is deliberative, soft-spoken and well-versed in the nuts and bolts of foreign policy.
Blinken was born into a Jewish family and graduated from Harvard University and Columbia Law School.
His father, Donald M. Blinken, who is also a Harvard graduate, was the US Ambassador to Hungary.
Between 1994 and 1998, he served as a speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and became one of his national security aides.
From 1999 to 2001, he acted as special assistant to Clinton, as well as taking on the role as senior director for European and Canadian Affairs.
Blinken has worked as staff director for the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2002 to 2008. He then worked on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and was a member of the Obama-Biden presidential transition team.
He went on to serve as deputy assistant to President Obama and as national security advisor to Vice President Biden.
Under Obama, Blinken worked to limit most US combat deployments to small numbers of troops, however, he has been critical of the way Trump pulled back US troops from Syria in 2019, and hence leaving YPG terrorists in the war-torn country.
After Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election to Trump, Blinken became one of the founders of WestExec Advisors, a Washington consultancy advising corporations on geopolitical risks.
Relations with Turkey
Antony Blinken is known as one of the Obama Administration officials who belatedly visited Turkey after the failed coup attempt in July 2016.
"Maybe we didn't communicate that we understood the depth of feeling the emotion in Turkey for the events of July," Blinken said four months after the coup which left 251 people killed and nearly 2,200 injured.
He also said that the US may not have shown enough sympathy to Turkey after the defeated July 15 coup attempt.
On the other hand, Blinken is known for advocating support for the YPG terror group in northern Syria.
In 2017, Blinken wrote an article in the New York Times, urging the Trump administration to arm and train the YPG-led SDF.
In the same article, he argued that YPG-dominated SDF should be convinced to refrain from using American-provided weapons to attack Turkey,
“We should insist that it commit to not use any weapons against Turkey, to cede liberated Raqqa to local forces, to respect Syria’s territorial integrity and to dissociate itself from the PKK,” he wrote.
He also said America should support Turkey in its long fight against PKK terrorism, “including helping find the group’s leadership holed up in Iraq’s Qandil Mountains.”
Blinken’s comments on Turkey are generally careful. In his extensive interview with theHudson Institute, he described the country as an ally with which the US will have to "find ways to work more effectively together".
“Turkey is a NATO ally by its engagements, by its geographical position, by its interests. It’s a vitally important country and it winds up being in one way or another and often an essential way, critical to some issue, conflict, initiative,” he said.
“We obviously have some real issues and differences but we also have areas where it would make good sense for us to find ways to work more effectively together, Syria, for example, being one of them.”
"I would hope that we can find ways to do that but I don’t want to underestimate some of the challenges that we’re facing in the relationship and that’s going to require, I think, first and foremost, some very direct and clear talk,” he added.