Trump Picks U.S. General of Lebanese Descent for Ambassador to KSA


U.S. President Donald Trump has tapped John Abizaid, a top U.S. general from the Iraq war who has studied the Middle East for years, as ambassador to Saudi Arabia amid growing friction between the longstanding allies.

Abizaid is a fluent Arabic speaker of Lebanese descent who headed U.S. Central Command -- which covers the Middle East -- during the Iraq war from shortly after the U.S. invasion in 2003 through 2007.

The 67-year-old wrote his master's thesis at Harvard University about Saudi Arabia, studying how the kingdom makes its decisions on defense spending, in a paper that won acclaim in academic circles.

A California native, Abizaid graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and later won a scholarship to study in Jordan, where he honed his Arabic, which he did not speak as a child.

Trump has been slow in filling key posts amid his promises to shake up Washington. But the absence of an ambassador in Riyadh, nearly two years into his presidency, has become more glaring amid rising tensions between the countries.

Trump, who quickly forged a close relationship with Saudi Arabia upon taking office, has been forced to criticize the kingdom and its powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, after a team from the kingdom killed a U.S.-based critical journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Amid a U.S. souring on the heir apparent, the United States has also curbed cooperation and demanded a halt to the Saudi-led military campaign against rebels in Yemen that has contributed to a humanitarian crisis believed to be the worst in the world.

But U.S. pleas -- made by telephone rather than in person by an ambassador -- have failed to sway the Saudis.

Abizaid requires confirmation from the Senate, which would appear likely as the retired four-star general has long enjoyed respect in Washington.

Shortly after taking over as CENTCOM commander, Abizaid told reporters that U.S. forces were facing a "classical guerrilla-type campaign" from remnants of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party.

His choice of words contradicted his bosses, who initially tried to portray the Iraq invasion as a quick victory, but then defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld did not move to replace him amid admiration for Abizaid's skills.

And soon after retiring in 2007, Abizaid said that, while the United States should try to prevent Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, "there are ways to live with a nuclear Iran," describing the clerical state's behavior as rational and noting the United States also dealt with a nuclear-armed Soviet Union.

Comments 5
Thumb Southern...... 15 November 2018, 13:26

He and his family are descent of SLA traitors...... must be forbidden from entering Lebanese territory!

After Israel, America is the 2nd enemy of Lebanon.

Thumb takiyyah 15 November 2018, 19:30

A Aouni member of Parliament since 2009 was an officer with SLA traitors. He was elected twice with Hezballah votes. Most members of SLA traitors were Southern Shi3as. Which means that you your family your ancestors and your descendants should probably be treated as SLA traitors. Most of the Southern Shi3as members of SLA traitors and many of their descendants are now Hezballah traitors. The Southern Shi3as who used to get Israeli paychecks are now getting Iranian paychecks. Southern Shi3as are loyal to whoever give them a paycheck.

Thumb s.o.s 16 November 2018, 14:40

spot on, these shias are not capable people, they rely always on foreign powers.

Thumb takiyyah 15 November 2018, 19:49

The Abizaid family is from Keserwan and Jbeil. You are thinking of the Abouzaid family that is from the south.

Missing cedars 15 November 2018, 14:20

And following Both syria and Iran is very decent and you are not traitors by assisinating all lebanese leaders from ALL religion and political sectors in 2015 ?

Those that close the borders in 1960s and 70s every time the Lebanese government made a decision without bowing and asking for permission from Syrian government are the real enemy of Lebanon.