Trump names retired general John Abizaid new US ambassador to Saudi Arabia

John Abizaid was a top US general from the Iraq war who has studied the Middle East for years. (Reuters)
Updated 14 November 2018
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Trump names retired general John Abizaid new US ambassador to Saudi Arabia

  • Abizaid is a fluent Arabic speaker of Lebanese Christian descent
  • The 67-year-old wrote his master's thesis at Harvard University about Saudi Arabia

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Tuesday named John Abizaid, a top US general from the Iraq war who has studied the Middle East for years, as ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Abizaid is a fluent Arabic speaker of Lebanese Christian descent who headed US Central Command - which covers the Middle East -during the Iraq war from shortly after the US 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 US 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 has not had an ambassador in position in Riyadh for the nearly two years of his presidency.

Trump quickly forged a close relationship with Saudi Arabia upon taking office.

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 US 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.

The real estate mogul turned president has shown a fondness for appointing retired generals, with Jim Mattis as defense secretary and John Kelly as his chief of staff.


Arab coalition preventing Houthis from threatening navigation

Updated 22 July 2019
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Arab coalition preventing Houthis from threatening navigation

  • 16 permits have been issued to secure the passage of ships heading to the port of Hodeidah
  • Al-Maliki: Houthi militia continues to obstruct the arrival of humanitarian aid and violates international humanitarian law

RIYADH: The Arab coalition fighting to restore the legitimate government in Yemen said on Monday it is continuing its duty to prevent the Iranian-backed Houthi militia from threatening international shipping.
However, speaking at a weekly press conference in Riyadh, spokesperson Col. Turki Al-Maliki also said the threat of international navigation is the responsibility of the international community
Col. Al-Maliki added that 16 permits have been issued to secure the passage of ships heading to the port of Hodeidah.
He also said that the Houthi militia continues to obstruct the arrival of humanitarian aid and violates international humanitarian law by targeting civilians and civilian sites, which have escalated to war crimes.
“The coalition is protecting the Yemeni citizens at the request of the legitimate government in Yemen and we will continue to provide assistance to the Yemeni people,” Al-Maliki added.
He also shed light on the coalition’s attacks on legitimate military targets in the capital Sanaa, which is under the control of the terrorist militia.