General John Abizaid confirmed as US ambassador to Saudi Arabia

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The Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to confirm a retired four-star general, John Abizaid, as the US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, filling an important diplomatic post that has been vacant for more than two years.

“Moving swiftly and efficiently on nominations like this, of which there are many others, is of great importance to our diplomatic stature across the globe,” said Sen. Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a statement after the 92-7 vote.


“We should continue in this way with all State Department nominees moving forward,” said Risch, R-Idaho. Abizaid received strong support from lawmakers in both parties, including critics of the administration’s Saudi policy.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said Abizaid was “a solid choice.” Murphy said that “while I strongly disagree with this administration’s weak, backward policy toward Saudi Arabia, I’m glad that we finally have an ambassador on the ground there.”

Abizaid was the longest-serving commander of US Central Command, holding that post from 2003 until he retired in 2007. He served in Grenada, the Persian Gulf, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

The US has been without an ambassador in Saudi Arabia since Joseph Westphal, who was picked for the job by President Barack Obama, left in January 2017.

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