Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, head of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, oversaw a hearing on President Obama’s nominee for ambassador to Iraq today (Wednesday). Stephen Beecroft, a career diplomat, is currently the number two American civilian official in Baghdad.
The hearing was the first meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee since the attacks on the US embassy in Libya that killed four Americans, including Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens. During the hearing Senator Kerry highlighted the difficulties inherent in serving abroad.
“We’re reminded that our diplomats all around the world serve on the front lines of some of the world’s most dangerous places, and they do so at great risk to themselves, and at great personal sacrifice for their families.”
Kerry cited Beecroft’s management skills as necessary qualifications to lead the embassy, which he says employs 14,000 people, and is the United States’ largest diplomatic mission. Kerry also addressed the continual post-war challenges facing Iraq, including ongoing ethnic divisions.
“Questions remain about whether Iraqi leaders, including the prime minister, aspire to represent a unified Iraq in all of its diversity, or whether they seek to govern narrowly, according to ethnic and sectarian constituencies.”
With increased protests and violence across the Middle East in the past week, Kerry urged congress to confirm Beecroft in the next 48 hours. Beecroft previously served as Ambassador to Jordan, and as executive assistant to former Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice.