New US ambassador to Iraq "knows the language [sic] and culture of the region"

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Tue Jan 9 13:03:02 UTC 2007

Ambassador Nominations Complete Iraq Policy Shakeup

By David Gollust State Department 08 January 2007

President Bush Monday completed a shake-up of key Iraq policy posts by
nominating new U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations and Baghdad. The
U.S. envoy to Iraq, Zalmay Khalizad, will take the United Nations post,
while the current ambassador to Pakistan, Ryan Crocker, goes to Baghdad.
VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department. The
long-anticipated ambassadorial changes complete a new administration
policy team that is to implement the Iraq strategy President Bush will
announce in a broadcast address Wednesday night. The shakeup began just
after the November U.S. election, with the replacement of Donald Rumsfeld
with Robert Gates as defense secretary.

It continued last week with appointment a new director of national
intelligence, Mike McConnell, while the incumbent in that post, John
Negroponte, was named to be Deputy Secretary of State with major
responsibilities for Iraq. Top commanders for the U.S. military forces in
Iraq are also being replaced, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
confirmed the ambassadorial moves in a brief press appearance here. She
said Ambassador Khalilzad, the Bush administration's highest ranking
Muslim, will move to the United Nations post which has been vacant since
the interim appointment of John Bolton expired last month. "This work is a
tall order," said Condoleezza Rice. "It demands a skilled and experienced
diplomat with proven ability to lead from principle, and to build
consensus and get results. And few Americans have distinguished themselves
in this regard as much as Zal. As our ambassador to Iraq these past 18
months, a time of extraordinary change and extraordinary challenge, Zal
has performed heroically and at great personal risk to help Iraqi
reformers and responsible leaders build a foundation of democracy in their

The Afghan-born Khalilzad had previously been U.S. ambassador in Kabul,
where Rice said he helped the people of his ancestral homeland step out of
the shadows of conflict to begin a new future of hope. She said his
replacement in Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, is one of the most experienced
members of the U.S. diplomatic corps, an ambassador to Lebanon, Kuwait,
Syria and currently Pakistan, and with experience in both Baghdad and
Kabul: "Ryan Crocker is known and respected throughout our government,
throughout the Middle East, and throughout the world," she said. "He knows
the language and culture of the region as well as the leaders and the
societies they lead. He will work effectively with the leadership of our
military, as he has done in Pakistan. He will work well with our coalition
partners and he will work well with the new Iraqi government. Ryan will be
a demanding boss in our embassy, you can be sure of that, but a fair and
inspiring one." The 57-year-old Crocker, who survived the 1983 bombing of
the U.S. embassy in Beirut, was reportedly considering retirement before
being tapped for the Baghdad job, where he will preside over the largest
U.S. diplomatic post in the world.

Ambassador Khalilzad, educated at the American University in Beirut, was a
State Department policy adviser in the 1980's. Before becoming the first
American ambassador to Afghanistan following the U.S.-led invasion of
2001, he was a National Security Council adviser to President Bush on
Southwest Asia and Islamic affairs.

[Moderator's comment:  Gee, I thought there were *many* languages in the
"region" in question... (hs)]


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