from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

The Near East Bureau at State: Nobody Home, Year Two

July 9, 2013

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On May 31, 2012 the Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East, Jeffrey Feltman, resigned his post. Feltman, a senior career diplomat who had been a superb ambassador to Lebanon, is now the number three official at the United Nations.

Amazingly enough, we are now well into the second year with that key post remaining vacant.

There is an acting assistant secretary, but that person does not have--no acting official ever does--the full authority of a permanent, confirmed officer. I suppose one could argue that Secretary Clinton could not or did not wish to fill the post last year when she was herself a short-timer. That was a mistake, but a comprehensible one. But that was a long time ago.

Secretary Kerry was announced as the President’s pick on December 12, 2012 and confirmed as Secretary of State on February 1, 2013.  He has been in office now for just over five months and there is still no nominee for the Near East Bureau.

Given the Secretary’s own preoccupation with Israeli-Palestinian matters, the carnage in Syria, the crisis in Egypt, the Iranian nuclear weapons program....one could go on....it is amazing that this job is vacant now under President Obama for over 13 months.

Excuses are offered, blame is cast in various directions, but in the end this is simply inexcusable.

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