The current U.S. ambassador to Iraq and his two most recent predecessors joined together to defend the nomination of Brett McGurk to be the next U.S. envoy in Baghdad, countering calls from several GOP senators for President Barack Obama to withdraw the nomination.
"We write to express our enthusiastic support for Brett McGurk's nomination to serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to Iraq," Jim Jeffrey, Chris Hill, and Ryan Crocker wrote in a letter today to Senate Foreign Relations Committee heads John Kerry (D-MA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN), obtained by The Cable.
"Each of us has previously served in this post, and we share a unique perspective on what it entails," they wrote. "Equally important, each of us has served alongside Brett over a period that now spans eight years. We know him well and we have all relied on him at critical moments. It is from these personal experiences that we note our strongest possible endorsement of Brett's nomination, and we urge the Senate to act swiftly in confirming him."
Jeffrey has been the ambassador in Iraq since 2010, Hill served in that post from 2009 to 2010, and Crocker held the job from 2007 to 2009. Crocker is now the ambassador to Afghanistan and is expected to leave that job soon due to health reasons.
In their letter, the former ambassadors argue that McGurk showed his understanding of the complexities facing Iraq in his June 6 confirmation hearing and said that he has the full trust and confidence of the current leadership team at the embassy.
"We urgently need an ambassador in Iraq and, if confirmed, Brett will be ready to lead from day one," they said.
The former ambassadors noted that the Obama administration called on McGurk to return to Iraq after he left government service in 2009 and said that they relied on McGurk's expertise, leadership, and judgment when dealing with sensitive and important issues. They also said McGurk "cares deeply about Iraq and its people" and "is uniquely positioned to build on all that America has sacrificed over this past decade and to establish the strongest possible relationship between our two countries."
"We need an Ambassador to Iraq," the ambassadors wrote. "Brett is the right man for the job."
McGurk's confirmation vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled for June 19. Kerry has yet to say whether or not he will vote in favor of McGurk's nomination.
"Senator Kerry has said that there are questions and we're in the process of finding answers and evaluating the situation," his spokeswoman Jodi Seth told The Cable