President Donald Trump intends to nominate David Satterfield, a veteran diplomat with extensive experience in the Middle East, to be US ambassador to Turkey, the White House said on Friday.
Satterfield has been the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs since 2017. He has previously served as the deputy US chief of mission in Iraq, ambassador to Lebanon, director for Near Eastern affairs on the National Security Council, as well as in Syria, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.
At a Senate Foreign Relations Hearing in Jan. 2018, Satterfield said he backs US policies to remove Iranian-linked forces from Syria and dimish Iranian influence with aggressive sanctions.
Turkey, a Muslim-majority NATO ally, borders Syria, Iraq and Iran and is a major player in the region.
The conflict in Syria following Trump’s announcement of a US pullout, the fallout from the killing of a Saudi journalist in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and Turkey’s demand for the extradition of a Muslim cleric from the United States are among the main issues in the two countries’ relations.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan welcomed Trump’s decision in December to withdraw American troops from Syria. Washington has backed Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters while Turkey brands the group a terrorist organization.
Erdogan said in November Turkey would not abide by renewed US sanctions on Iran’s oil and shipping industries because they were aimed at “unbalancing the world.”
Trump said in November that he was not considering extraditing Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for a failed 2016 coup.