Trump Nominates John Abizaid as New Ambassador to Saudi Arabia
US President Donald Trump has named a former army general with long experience in the Middle East as ambassador to Saudi Arabia, a post that has been vacant since Joseph Westphal left in January 2017.
John Abizaid, a retired four-star army general of Lebanese Christian descent, is prominent for his stint as the longest-chief of US Central Command – of which the Middle East is part – starting shortly after the Iraq war in 2003 all the way through to 2007.
He graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point, after which he earned a scholarship to go study Arabic in Jordan, a language he did not speak as a child.
Abizaid also attended Harvard University where he obtained a Master of Arts in Middle Eastern Studies. His thesis focused on Saudi Arabia’s weapons procurement policy.
The 67-year-old’s appointment, which will have to be approved by the Senate, comes at a time when relations between the longstanding allies are being put to the test following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.