The Cable

Names: more fundraiser ambassadors, envoys, empty chairs

Donors: Reports and sources say that two prominent Democratic fundraisers are in line for ambassadorships:

Minneapolis attorney and Democratic party fundraiser Sam Kaplan is going to be named U.S. ambassador to Morocco. Kaplan, 72, along with his wife Sylvia Kaplan, a restaurateur, are huge Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party donors and power brokers in Minnesota. Major backers of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, they were "bundlers" for Barack Obama's 2008 campaign. A Washington Middle East hand in touch with Kaplan tells The Cable that Kaplan was offered a choice of various ambassadorships (including Italy) and chose Morocco. He couldn't immediately be reached.

Retired Beverley Hills cable television businessman Marc Nathanson, a former chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors that oversees Prague-based Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, is reported to be up for U.S. ambassador to Prague. Nathanson declined to confirm or deny the tip when The Cable reached him last week. Nathanson, vice chairman of the board of directors of the National Democratic Institute, was a major fundraiser and backer of Hillary Clinton who threw his support to Obama when Clinton conceded the Democratic primary as some other Clinton donors resisted -- a decision that may have earned him the Obama White House's gratitude. A recent Los Angeles Business Journal survey rated him the 39th wealthiest Los Angelino. Prague is considered one of the most desirable U.S. embassies in the world, and the mansion that serves as the ambassador's residence has some 80 rooms.

Named: Perhaps sensitive to reports he's appointing so many big money donors to key ambassadorships, Obama named 10 more ambassador appointments tonight, five of whom come out of the Foreign Service.

Among the FSOs nominated in this bunch: U.S. Consul General in Toronto John R. Nay is named to be U.S. ambassador to Suriname, dean of the Foreign Service Institute and career FSO Martha L. Campbell is nominated to be ambassador to the Marshall Islands, former Deputy Assistant Secretary in State's NEA bureau Richard J. Schmierer is nominated to be ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman, former senior advisor to the U.S. ambassador to Iraq Gordon Gray is named ambassador to Tunisia, and former deputy ambassador to the US embassy in Nairobi Pamela J. H. Slutz is nominated to be U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Burundi.

Among the non-FSOs nominated today: former Virginia Lieutenant Governor Don Beyer is slotted for U.S. ambassador to Switzerland, Brookings' senior fellow and partner at Mayer Brown LLP Mark Gitenstein for U.S. ambassador to Romania, Williams & Connolly partner Howard Gutman for ambassador to Belgium, businessman Vinai Thummalapally ambassador to Belize, and Maj. Gen. Alfonso E. Lenhardt (USA, Ret.), president and CEO of the National Crime Prevention Council and a former senior VP for the Shaw Group, has been named U.S. ambassador to Tanzania.

Other names: Dan Russell, a foreign service officer who has until recently served as chief of staff to Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns, will be promoted to DAS for Russia, reporting to Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and European Affairs Philip Gordon, Russia hands say. Russell previously served as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and at the U.S. embassy in Kazakhstan. He didn't immediately respond to a query, but his replacement as Burns' chief of staff has been assigned. 

International energy consultant David Goldwyn, a former counselor to Energy Secretary and then U.S./U.N. ambassador Bill Richardson, will likely be named U.S. special envoy for energy, associates told The Cable. Goldwyn, who has consulted Fortune 500 firms on energy issues and political risk, has reportedly set up oil-company funded business councils with repressive energy-rich countries like Turkmenistan and Libya. A former administration official says Goldwyn has worked to bring more transparency to the energy sectors of countries he's worked in, including Nigeria. The special envoy position would not presumably require Senate confirmation. He didn't immediately respond to a query.

Empty seats: Former administration officials and Washington foreign-policy hands note several still unfilled posts. Among them: under secretary of state for economic, business and agriculture affairs, director of State's INR bureau, and USAID administrator.

The Cable

Obama calls Jordan's King Abdullah

President Barack Obama called Jordan's King Abdullah today. The two discussed Obama's "recent visits to Saudi Arabia and Egypt," a White House readout said.

The President reiterated his commitment to work hard to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a two-state solution, as he underscored in his speech in Cairo.  They discussed ways of ensuring that all parties fulfill their obligations and responsibilities to ensure that negotiations toward a two-state solution have the best chance to succeed, and promised to continue close coordination in this regard, as demonstrated by the upcoming meeting on June 11 between King Abdullah and the President's Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, George Mitchell, in Amman.

Obama's chat with Jordan's Abdullah comes a couple days after he called Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu delivers a highly anticipated speech on Sunday.

"He's going to say something about 'We've always said we don't want to govern the Palestinians,' and advocate some form of separation. 'But a Palestinian state divided between the West Bank and Gaza, with Hamas a front for the Iranians, is not something we can live with without compromising Israeli security interests. However, at the end of a process which I am willing and ready to begin immediately I could see some form of Palestinian sovereignty,'" predicted one former Israeli official to The Cable

As the White House readout of the Obama-Abdullah call indicates, U.S. peace envoy George Mitchell is currently on a trip to the region, his fourth since taking the job, having made stops in Oslo, Israel, and Ramallah. Mitchell is expected to go on to Jordan tomorrow, followed by Syria and Lebanon.

Congressional sources urge Mitchell, after his trip to the region, to come back up to the Hill "to reinforce the spine" of members. "It's critical Mitchell come up to the Hill and meet with key members and tell them, 'You guys need to stay with us,'" a staffer said. Otherwise, he said, groups that want to ease U.S. pressure on the settlements issue can try to drive a wedge between the administration and lawmakers.

Next week, Israeli Foreign Minister Avidgor Lieberman comes to Washington. Last week, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak came through town, where he pushed the urgency of the Iran issue in meetings from the White House to the Pentagon, and told Congressmembers he met with that Israel was looking for more "nuances" on the settlements issue.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and Strategic Affairs Minister and former Israeli Defense Forces chief Moshe Ya'alon also came through town in recent days. Obama's aggressive peace plan could lead to "Hamastan in the West Bank," Ya'alon reportedly warned an audience at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Tuesday, advocating for slowing the process down.

Arab allies including Jordan's Abdullah have pushed the Obama administration to move quickly on a comprehensive peace plan. "What we are talking about is not Israelis and Palestinians sitting at the table, but Israelis sitting with Palestinians, Israelis sitting with Syrians, Israelis sitting with Lebanese," Abdullah told the Times last month. "And with the Arabs and the Muslim world lined up to open direct negotiations with Israelis at the same time. So it's the work that needs to be done over the next couple of months that has a regional answer to this -- that is not a two-state solution, it is a 57-state solution."