Still no am­bas­sadors in Saudi Ara­bia, Turkey amid cri­sis

The News-Times - - OBITURIES/NEWS/FROM THE FRONT PAGE -

The dis­ap­pear­ance of journalist and U.S. res­i­dent Ja­mal Khashoggi af­ter vis­it­ing a Saudi con­sulate in Turkey has thrown the large num­ber of diplo­matic va­can­cies un­der Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump into the spot­light, no­tably in Turkey and Saudi Ara­bia. It’s a gap the ad­min­is­tra­tion says it has been try­ing to fix but with lim­ited suc­cess.

Khashoggi’s case and the fact that there are no Amer­i­can am­bas­sadors in ei­ther Ankara or Riyadh have prompted con­cerns about dozens of un­filled se­nior State Depart­ment po­si­tions al­most two years into Trump’s pres­i­dency. Those con­cerns have sparked an in­creas­ingly bit­ter bat­tle with Congress over who is to blame.

Aside from Saudi Ara­bia and Turkey, Trump has yet to nom­i­nate can­di­dates for am­bas­sado­rial posts in 20 na­tions, in­clud­ing Aus­tralia, Egypt, Ire­land, Mex­ico, Pak­istan, South Africa, Sin­ga­pore and Swe­den. At the same time, 46 am­bas­sado­rial nom­i­nees are still await­ing Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion, prompt­ing an­gry com­plaints from the ad­min­is­tra­tion and push­back from Demo­cratic law­mak­ers.

A num­ber of am­bas­sador po­si­tions to in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions also re­main un­filled as do 13 se­nior po­si­tions at the State Depart­ment head­quar­ters, for which five have no nom­i­nee.

It’s un­clear if high-pro­file is­sues like Khashoggi’s dis­ap­pear­ance suf­fer from ne­glect in the ab­sence of an am­bas­sador. In­deed, Turkey freed Amer­i­can pas­tor An­drew Brun­son on Fri­day af­ter re­peated com­plaints and sanc­tions from Wash­ing­ton. But the man­age­ment of day-to-day diplo­matic re­la­tions can lan­guish with­out a per­sonal rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the pres­i­dent present.

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