FaceOf: John Phillip Abizaid, US ambassador nominee to Saudi Arabia

John Phillip Abizaid
Updated 16 November 2018

FaceOf: John Phillip Abizaid, US ambassador nominee to Saudi Arabia

  • Abizaid graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point in 1973.
  • A fluent speaker of Arabic, Abizaid served as a general in the Arabian Gulf, Bosnian, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq wars

John Phillip Abizaid is set to be the next US ambassador to Saudi Arabia. A Lebanese-American, he was a four-star general in the US Army. Abizaid retired in 2007 after 34 years’ service. At that time he was the longest-serving commander of US Central Command. Previously he served as a distinguished chair of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump nominated him as US ambassador to Saudi Arabia. 

A fluent speaker of Arabic, Abizaid served as a general in the Arabian Gulf, Bosnian, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq wars. With extensive experience of Middle Eastern affairs, he led the US Central Command — which covers the whole Middle East — during the Iraq War shortly after the US invasion in 2003 until 2007. 

As the US Central Command (USCENTCOM) commander, he oversaw US military operations across a 27-country region covering the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, South and Central Asia and much of the Middle East. USCENTCOM commanders oversee an estimated 250,000 troops.

Abizaid graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point in 1973. He received an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University, where his 100-page paper on Saudi Arabia’s defense policy was highly acclaimed. 

While in Jordan, Abizaid served as an Olmsted Scholar at the University of Jordan in Amman. 

Since retiring from the military, Abizaid has been a fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Abizaid’s appointment as ambassador requires Senate approval, but this is thought to be a formality as he is held in high regard in Washington.


Attacks on oil facilities in Kingdom threaten world economy: Saudi energy minister

Updated 15 September 2019

Attacks on oil facilities in Kingdom threaten world economy: Saudi energy minister

  • Saudi Aramco says no staff have been injured in attacks
  • The oil giant is working on restoring the lost quantities

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said drones that attacked Saudi Aramco installations had caused an interruption of an estimated 5.7 million barrels in crude supplies and threaten the world economy.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said as a result of the terrorist acts, oil production in Abqaiq and Khurais was knocked out temporarily and that estimates show that 50 percent of the company’s production had been interrupted.

Part of the decrease will be compensated to clients through reserves, Prince Abdulaziz said in a statement carried on the Saudi Press Agency.

The newly appointed minister confirmed there were no injuries to staff at the locations targeted, adding that the company is still assessing the resulting damage.

The attacks not only target the Kingdom’s vital installations, but also target the international oil supply and threaten its security, he said, and are a threat to the world economy. 

The blasts took place at 3:31am and 3:42am at the two locations, both in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, causing fires that were brought under control by emergency services.

The drone attacks, at the world’s largest oil processing plant at Abqaiq and at an oilfield in Khurais, highlight the importance of the international community to protect energy supply against “all terrorist sides that carry out, support and finance such cowardly disruptive acts,” the statement said.

He said that these blasts also knocked out the production of 2bn cubic feet of associated gas daily, used to produce 700,000 barrels of natural gas liquids, which will lead to an approximate 50 percent decrease of Ethane and natural gas liquids supply.

The statement said the company is currently working on restoring the lost quantities, and will present updated information within the next 48 hours.

World leaders condemned the attacks on Saudi Arabia on Saturday and those behind the terrorist acts. 

Donald Trump called Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to reassert his country's “readiness to cooperate with the Kingdom, by all means conducive to maintain its security and stability.”

The Crown Prince "underscored the Kingdom’s willingness and strength to thwart such a terrorist aggression and deal with its consequences,” SPA reported on Saturday.

The UAE said it “condemns this act of terrorism and sabotage and considers it as a new evidence of the terrorist groups’ attempts to undermine the security and stability of the region as a whole.”

“The Houthis must stop undermining Saudi Arabia’s security by threatening civilian areas and commercial infrastructure,” said the British government.

“The US strongly condemns today’s drone attacks. These attacks against critical infrastructure endanger civilians, are unacceptable, and sooner or later will result in innocent lives being lost,” said the US envoy in Riyadh John Abizaid.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was emphatic about the need to condemn Iranian aggression, specifically on Saudi Arabia, and the need to ensure the security of world energy supplies.

“Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen,” he tweeted, “We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks. The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression”

The Houthis, who are backed by Iran, said they had carried out the attacks and that 10 drones had been used.