Biden's new pick for US ambassador to Saudi Arabia will be considered an insult by MBS, ex_freckle removal south africa

INSIDERINSIDER

Biden's new pick for US ambassador to Saudi Arabia will be considered an insult by MBS, ex-official says, as US-Saudi relations hit new low

Bill Bostock·3 min readIn this article:
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  • Joe BidenJoe Biden46th and current president of the United States
  • Khalid bin Salman Al SaudSon of King Salman of Saudi Arabia
  • Michael RatneyAmerican diplomat
  • Mohammed bin SalmanSaudi crown prince and minister of defense
US President Joe BIden (L,) Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
A composite image of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US President Joe Biden.Reuters
  • Biden nominated Michael Ratney, a career diplomat, to be US ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

  • A former US official said the Saudis usually expect a political appointee with military ties, and could be insulted by this pick.

  • Relations between the US and Saudi Arabia are currently at a new low.

President Joe Biden's pick for US ambassador to Saudi Arabia will likely be considered a disappointment or even an insult to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a former US official told Insider.

Last Friday, Biden nominated Michael Ratney to the post following the departure of Gen. John Abizaid, a former head of US Central Command, from Riyadh last year.

The nomination comes at a low point in US-Saudi relations, with Biden clearly distancing himself from the country and Crown Prince Mohammed — also known as MBS — reportedly trying to punish him back.

David Schenker, who served as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs at the State Department from 2019 to January 2021, told Insider of Ratney: "He's a very capable diplomat, he served in positions of importance, requited himself well, and is held in high regard."

"But we've seen a lot of stresses in the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia and this is not going to help."

US Consul General of Jerusalem Michael Ratney speaks at the American consulate in Jerusalem on June 4, 2015 during a reception ahead of the 4th of July American Independence day celebrations. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD GHARABLI (Photo credit should read AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)
Michael Ratney, then US Consul General of Jerusalem, seen in Jerusalem on June 4, 2015.AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)

Historically, most US ambassadors to Saudi Arabia have been political appointees with deep military ties, like Abizaid.

Other former recent ambassadors include Joseph Westphal, the former under secretary of the US Army, and James Smith, a former executive with the Raytheon arms manufacturer.

But Ratney, a widely respected, Arabic-speaking diplomat, is the first foreign-service officer to be in line for the post since Charles Freeman in 1989.

Saudi Arabia may therefore be offended by Ratney's appointment, Schenker said. A core tenet of the two countries' relationship has been the US guarantee of Saudi security: The US maintains a major military base in Riyadh and sells millions of dollars of arms to the Saudis every year. Ratney's selection could indicate to Riyadh that Biden isn't as concerned with Saudi Arabia's security as his predecessors.

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