Senate confirms Ratney as next US ambassador to Saudi Arabia

The Senate confirmed Michael Ratney as the next US ambassador to Saudi Arabia this week, filling one of the multiple vacant diplomatic posts in the region.

President Joe Biden nominated Ratney last year in April. He served as the acting deputy director of the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute (FSI) and, before that, was the chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Jerusalem.

Ratney has also previously served as the deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Qatar as well as the acting deputy assistant secretary for the Levant and Israel and Palestinian Affairs. The veteran diplomat was US special envoy for Syria and served in Mexico City, Baghdad, Beirut, Casablanca and Bridgetown.

He speaks Arabic and French.

The US did not have an ambassador in Saudi Arabia for two years after former President Donald Trump took office. He then picked John Abizaid to be the envoy. The post has been vacant since he left in January 2021.

US-Saudi relations have dipped since Biden took office, froze arms sales to Riyadh, and lifted the terror designation of the Iran-backed Houthis.

But efforts have been made to bolster ties between the two countries. On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia and Boeing signed what the White House praised as “landmark deals” worth $37 billion.

During a confirmation hearing, Ratney said he was committed to a strong and sustainable US-Saudi partnership, adding that energy supplies would be a big part of his talks with the Saudi government.

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