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Joe Biden fills top brass positions with veteran diplomats: Who’s who?

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US President-elect Joe Biden Monday announced his nominations for several high-ranking positions in his upcoming administration.

The list includes his pick for secretary of state, national security adviser and US ambassador to the United Nations.

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Antony Blinken is Biden’s pick to be the top US diplomat, while Jake Sullivan has been tapped to be Biden’s National Security Adviser.

Blinken, 58, is a longtime confidante of Biden and has worked with the former VP for decades.

During Biden’s time on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Blinken was his aide and played a central role in crafting US policy in the Middle East.

Blinken referred to as a centrist, has admitted to getting Washington’s policy on Syria wrong during his time in the Obama administration.

Sullivan, formerly one of Hillary Clinton’s closest aides, is also to be named Biden’s national security adviser, Bloomberg reported.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks with Jake Sullivan, a former staff member for her at the State Department, before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, Oct. 22, 2015. (AP)
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks with Jake Sullivan, a former staff member for her at the State Department, before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, Oct. 22, 2015. (AP)

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, formerly the assistant secretary of state for Africa in the Obama administration, has been nominated to be the next US ambassador to the UN.

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield, right, testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 9, 2014. (AP)
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield, right, testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 9, 2014. (AP)

Former Secretary of State John Kerry will be Biden’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, a statement from Biden’s transition team said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks on Middle East peace at the Department of State in Washington, Dec. 28, 2016. (AP)
US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks on Middle East peace at the Department of State in Washington, Dec. 28, 2016. (AP)

Avril Haines, the first woman to serve as Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, will be the director of national intelligence.

Alejandro Mayorkas, also a former official in the Obama administration, has been picked to lead Homeland Security. If confirmed, Biden’s team said he would be the first immigrant and first Latino to lead the department.
Mayorkas served as the deputy secretary of Homeland Security in the Obama-Biden administration.

Biden also said last week he had chosen a secretary of treasury, and would announce the person near the Nov. 26 Thanksgiving holiday. Former Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen is said to be the top candidate.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Yellen was going to be named by Biden. She would be the first woman to head the Treasury.

Former Fed Chair Janet Yellen in a televised interview, Aug. 14, 2019. (AP)
Former Fed Chair Janet Yellen in a televised interview, Aug. 14, 2019. (AP)

The appointments, needing Senate confirmation, will be announced by Biden Tuesday, according to his newly-appointed chief-of-staff, Ron Klain.

Klain, Biden’s chief of staff while VP, was Biden’s first hire since he beat incumbent President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 elections.

So far, Biden has steered away from controversial names in a sign that he intends to seek a middle ground with Republicans.

Susan Rice, US ambassador to the UN and then the national security adviser under Obama, was one of the potential candidates for secretary of state. However, her past comments after the deadly 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya, have been controversial and heavily criticized by the Republican party.

On Monday, Biden named Reema Dodin and Shuwanza Goff as deputy directors of the White House’s office of legislative affairs, which coordinates legislation with Congress. Dodin and Goff have served as top legislative strategists for Democratic Senator Dick Durbin and Democratic House of Representatives Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, respectively.

Separately, Michele Flournoy, a veteran of Pentagon policy jobs, is a top choice to lead the Defense Department.

Read more:

US policies in the Middle East: An in-depth analysis of Biden’s plans

Centrist Blinken to be Biden’s pick for US secretary of state

- with agencies