By Anne Gearan and Dan Lamothe |
President Trump announced Tuesday that he will nominate retired Army Gen. John Abizaid to become the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, filling a vacancy that was spotlighted by the difficult diplomacy between the United States and Riyadh over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The post has been vacant throughout Trump’s presidency.
Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have blamed Senate Democrats for holding up nominations, but no one had been nominated for the job until now. Turkey, where Washington Post contributing columnist Khashoggi was killed last month, also has no U.S. ambassador.
Abizaid, best known from his time overseeing the Iraq War, is now a consultant and a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. His selection emphasizes the importance Trump has placed on the military partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia, a major customer for U.S. arms.