Trump says to nominate retired general as ambassador to Saudi Arabia
WASHINGTON, Nov. 14 — U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced that he intends to nominate a retired four-star general as the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
John P. Abizaid, former commander of U.S. Central Command, is currently serving as the first Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and works as a private consultant at JPA Associates.
Abizaid was a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and earned his M.A. in Middle Eastern Area Studies from Harvard University.
Once holding the distinguished chair of the Combating Terrorism Center at the United States Military Academy at West Point, he began his career in the U.S. Army as an infantry platoon leader and rose to become a four-star general and the longest serving commander of United States Central Command.
The White House said that he also served as the director of strategic plans and policy on the Joint Staff and then director of the Joint Staff among other leadership positions.
Abizaid is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
The post of U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, a key ally in the region, has been vacant even the bilateral ties have been tested recently due to the high casualties in Yemen caused by the Saudi-led airstrikes and the killing of a Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey.
Saudi Arabia has earlier decided to request the U.S. side to end its aerial refueling for the Saudi operations, and U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis responded that the Pentagon backs this decision.
The U.S. Congress also urged a thorough investigation into the murder of Khashoggi, and threatened to take more actions against Saudi Arabia if those responsible were not held accountable, such as suspending the U.S. military sales to Saudi Arabia and sanctioning the kingdom.
However, the Trump administration has been reluctant to further punish the Saudi side, citing alliance concerns and Saudi purchase of U.S. military equipment.