The Obama administration has nominated Robert Stephen Beecraft, a career diplomat and Middle East expert, to be the next U.S. ambassador to Iraq.
Beecraft, currently the Chargé d'Affaires of the U.S. embassy in Iraq, was bumped up for the nomination after Obama's first choice, Brett McGurk, removed his name from consideration.
McGurk, a former national security staffer, admitted to having an affair with Wall Street Journal reporter Gina Chon while he was stationed there in 2008 after racy emails between the two were leaked to the press.
Although the two have since married, Chon resigned from the Journal in June after admitting she broke its journalistic policies by allowing McGurk to see unpublished articles.
Beecraft was chosen as the new nominee because he is seen as politically safe and an easy confirmation during this year's heated general election season. McGurk, who some accused of alienating Iraqi leaders during his last stint in the country, was a more controversial choice.
Beecraft has served as the Iraq Embassy's Chargé d'Affaires since June 2012, previously acting as Deputy Chief of Mission since 2011. He served as the U.S. ambassador to Jordan between 2008 and 2011 as well as at the U.S. Embassies in Saudi Arabia and Syria.
The Mormon lawyer who joined the foreign service in 1994 has been nominated during an especially troubling time for U.S.-Iraq relations.
The United States has been lukewarm in its support for the recent death sentence for Iraqi Vice President Tariq Hashemi and recent insurgent violence has spiked in the country with 64 people killed in three western Baghdad neighborhoods on Sunday alone.
Beecroft currently awaits Senate confirmation.
by RTT Staff Writer
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