In contrast to the appointments of Mitchell and Holbrooke who are "presidential envoys," Ross will be a "special advisor" on the Gulf to the Secretary of State. He will be tasked with coordinating Gulf policy, including U.S. policy toward Iran, but since he reports to the Secretary and not to the President the key nexus remains the NSC advisor General Jones. In short, the position handed to Ross has been whittled down considerably since January when fawning journalists reported that Ross would be a minister plenipotentiary for Iran. Well-placed stories promoting the a much grander role for Ross were countered by a stream of private recommendations to the President that this would be a big mistake, especially if Obama was serious about a dialogue with Iran.
Dennis Ross appointed special U.S. advisor on Gulf | Politics | Reuters