The Washington Post's Al Kamen, respected for his sources on personnel developments, reports that Dan Shapiro is likely to head Near

East Affairs at the NSC, and Jeffrey Feltman may be Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs. Both would be good news. A well informed friend reports that Dan Shapiro will be Senior Director for the Middle East, and Puneet Talwar will be Senior Director for Iran and maybe Iraq.

Feltman is a gutsy guy who did an impressive job as Ambassador to Lebanon, and is clear-eyed about Syria, Hezbollah, and Iran.

Dan Shapiro wrote many of Obama's Middle East speeches during the campaign, and acted as a liaison to the Jewish community. Earlier he worked for Senaor Bill Nelson of Florida, and played a major role in drafting the 2003 Syria Accountability Act,. Prior to that he served on the NSC during the Clinton administration as Congressional liaison for National Security Adviser Sandy Berger. From 1995-1999, he was legislative assistant and senior foreign policy adviser to California Democratic Party Senator Dianne Feinstein, now Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. From 1993-1995, he was a professional staff member on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East, under Chairman Lee H. Hamilton.

Talwar , Biden's Mideast adviser in the Senate, has long been an advocate of engagement with Iran, as he laid out in Foreign Affairs in July 2001.