WASHINGTON President Trump on Tuesday nominated retired four-star army general John Abizaid, who supervised the US Central Command during the first years of the Iraq war, as ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
US Saudi Arabia has been strained by the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as the country has acknowledged. Mr Trump has not yet decided on what action to be taken and is facing pressure from Congress and the Turkish government. Khashoggi was killed on October 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and Turkish officials said Saudi officials at high level knew about a plot to kill him.
Born in California, Abizaid, 67, is of Lebanese descent and speaks Arabic. He ran the US Central Commission from 2003 to 2007, supervised strategy and joint operations in the Middle East, Horn of Africa and Central Asia.
Mr. Abizaid has a master’s degree in Middle East studies from Harvard University. He is currently a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and runs JPA Partners, an international strategic consulting company. He is a member of the Foreign Relations Council and the International Institute of Strategic Studies.
The United States has not had a permanent ambassador in Saudi Arabia since January 2017. Mr Abizaid would need a Senate confirmation.