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Obama's 'ISIL' Czar Tasked with Getting US Response in Sync

Robert Malley, left, speaks with Secretary of State John Kerry and a European Union official during the Iran nuclear talks last April. Malley is tasked with coordinating efforts of all US agencies in the fight against ISIL. (AP photo)
Robert Malley, left, speaks with Secretary of State John Kerry and a European Union official during the Iran nuclear talks last April. Malley is tasked with coordinating efforts of all US agencies in the fight against ISIL. (AP photo)

President Barack Obama's new "ISIL czar," Robert Malley, has a long and sometimes controversial history at the center of U.S. policymaking in the Middle East.

He now faces one of the toughest jobs in Washington: getting the struggling campaign against the Islamic State group on track despite Obama's reluctance to entertain any wholesale change in strategy.

Malley was elevated to the role with little fanfare in late November. His role is to ensure the countless U.S. agencies fighting IS work in tandem despite differing time zones, capabilities and even views about the conflict.

At stake is an extremist threat of exporting violence from Syria and Iraq deep into the West, raising fears that the U.S. is losing a battle that Obama concedes will still be raging when he leaves office.