The US Senate has nominated a new Ambassador to Turkey, the embassy in the Turkish capital Ankara announced today. “We have exciting news!” Tweeted the embassy. “Last night, the US Senate confirmed Ambassador David Satterfield to be the next US Ambassador to Turkey. We look forward to welcoming him in the near future. Stay tuned!”
Satterfield, a senior diplomat across two decades, has served in a variety of posts in the Middle East and was picked for his extensive experience in the region, as well as the fact that besides English he speaks four other languages: Arabic, French, Italian and Hebrew.
He has been Coordinator for Iraq and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State from 2006 to 2009; Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for Libya in 2014; and Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs since 2017. In addition to those posts, Satterfield has also held top positions at US missions in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Lebanon.
The post of Ambassador to Turkey has been vacant for almost two years since the previous Ambassador, John Bass, left his position due to a visa crisis between Washington and Ankara. He now serves as US envoy to Afghanistan.
The new appointment comes at a time when US-Turkish relations have been tense and in decline, with a clash of national interests over regional and foreign policy issues. The US has recently been threatening Turkey with sanctions due primarily to the latter’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defence system, which Washington claims will compromise the security of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and is technologically incompatible with its F-35 fighter jets.
Another issue has been Turkey’s drilling for natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean off the coast of Cyprus. A new pipeline is to be built after a $9 billion agreement was struck between southern Cyprus, Greece and Israel in early June.