Trump Picks Retired General John Abizaid for Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

A retired four-star general is President Donald Trump’s pick to be US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, filling a key diplomatic vacancy at a time when US-Saudi relations are being tested by the slaying of a journalist critical of the Saudi royal family. Trump announced Tuesday that he is nominating John Abizaid, the longest-serving commander of the US Central Command, to lead the US Embassy in Riyadh. It’s a post that has been empty since former ambassador Joseph Westphal left in January 2017. If confirmed by the Senate, Abizaid would become ambassador as the Trump administration is weighing the U.S. response to the killing of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials claim Khashoggi was killed by a 15-member assassination squad sent from Riyadh on orders from the highest levels of the Saudi government. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has revoked the visas of the Saudis implicated in the killing. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said additional measures will be taken. Abizaid, who retired in 2007, served in wars in Grenada, the Persian Gulf, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. Following the war in Iraq, Abizaid assumed control of CENTCOM, which overseas military operations in 20 nations stretching from northeast Africa to the Middle East to Central and South Asia. Abizaid, of Nevada, currently works as a private consultant and is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Previously, he was the distinguished chair of the Combating Terrorism Center at the US Military Academy at West Point. He also served in various senior positions on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

GEN Abizaid (Ret) is an outstanding choice for Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.  Left out of this rather lazy AP story is the fact that GEN Abizaid also happens to be of Lebanese decent (his grandparents immigrated to America), which gives him an Arab connection, which the Saudis will probably appreciate.  And, the man speaks Arabic.  So, as he deals with the Kingdom, that will also come in handy…not the mention the fact that he is a retired Army 4-star General who commanded CENTCOM.  The Saudis respect status, and GEN Abizaid has plenty of that.   GEN Abizaid is a grad of West Point, and got his Masters from Harvard where he wrote a paper on Saudi Arabia that won him accolades.  Little did he know then that’d be considered for this role.  Again, an excellent choice to be the next Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.  We hope he is confirmed quickly.     🙂

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