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Monday, October 11, 2010     GET YOUR INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Congress stalls on appointment for Syria, Turkey

WASHINGTON — The Democratic-controlled Congress has blocked U.S. ambassadorial nominations for Syria and Turkey.


The State Department has acknowledged that Congress was blocking the nomination of two career officers for the posts of ambassadors of Syria and Turkey. The department said Congress would not move on the nominations until after the November elections.

"We're hopeful that when the Senate reconvenes after the election that their nominations will go forward," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said.

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Crowley's remarks were said to reflect congressional dismay over the policies of Syria and Turkey. Officials acknowledged that House and Senate leaders have complained of Turkey's alliance with Iran and Syria.

The administration has nominated Francis Ricciardone, a former ambassador to Egypt, as the next U.S. envoy to Ankara. The Senate has also held up the nomination of Robert Ford as ambasador to Syria since February 2010.

"We continue in consultation with the Senate on those nominations," Crowley said on Oct. 4.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has already endorsed Ricciardone for the post. But Sen. Sam Brownback, in a move that has stalled the confirmation, has placed a hold on the nomination. Brownback was said to have warned that Ricciardone might be unable to maintain contact with Turkey's opposition.

Crowley said the Senate failure to confirm Ford and Ricciardone has hampered U.S. policy.

"It does have an impact," Crowley said. "These are vitally important countries to the future of the region. They are countries that we need that kind of day-to-day interaction with."

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