New US envoy to Qatar named

July 11, 2014 - 6:11:39 am

WASHINGTON: The Senate yesterday confirmed US ambassadors to Qatar and Kuwait, as top Democrats laid into Republicans for slow-walking dozens more of President Barack Obama’s nominations.

Career Foreign Service officers Douglas Silliman and Dana Smith were confirmed as the new envoys to Kuwait and Qatar, respectively.

Smith’s confirmation process took a relatively quick two months, but Silliman’s lasted seven, a length of time that has become more the rule than the exception in a thoroughly gridlocked Senate.

“I really appreciate it today, we get two ambassadors,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said sarcastically on the Senate floor. “We’ve only got 27 more to go.”

Secretary of State John Kerry, who warned in a strongly-worded op-ed in Politico this week that Senate gridlock was “hobbling American diplomacy,” put the number higher, saying before yesterday’s confirmations that Washington was left without permanent ambassadors in 40 countries. A quarter of all US ambassadorships in Africa are unfilled.

The administration has pressed for rapid confirmation of the president’s envoys to flesh out the diplomatic corps to better address flashpoints like the Middle East or eastern Ukraine. AFP

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