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What does the transfer of the US ambassador from Yemen to Iraq mean?

US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller
US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller
On November 7, the White House announced that United States President Donald Trump intended to nominate Matthew Tueller to serve as Washington’s ambassador to Iraq, replacing Douglas Silliman.

Tueller has much experience on the issues of the Middle East and has been the ambassador of his country in Yemen since May 2014 as well as a senior member of the diplomatic corps in the US State Department. He has also held several positions in the US Foreign Service, primarily in Kuwait between 2011 and 2014 before being transferred to Yemen.

Prior to that, Tueller served as Deputy Head of Mission at the US embassies in Cairo, Kuwait and Doha, in addition to the his roles as political adviser at the US embassy in Riyadh, director of the US consulate in Aden, political and consular officer at the US embassy in Amman, a political consultant in the US embassy in Riyadh. He also served as deputy director of the North Gulf Affairs Office and an official for Egyptian Affairs at the Foreign Ministry.

Tueller is proficient in Arabic and is described by one his colleagues in the corps, Ryan Crocker – who worked with him in Iraq and Kuwait – as “probably the best man who can speak Arabic in the Foreign Service”.


Early days in Morocco and Egypt

He spent four years in Morocco – when his former diplomat father was working there – studying colloquial Arabic. He furthered his Arabic studies at university in Cairo, according to the Arabic website Raseef22.

Tueller’s transfer to Baghdad coincided perfectly with these changes. He is one of the hostile hawks of American diplomacy regarding Iran and his relationship with the Houthis is said to be negative due to his previous positions on negotiating issues over the Yemeni crisis.

His presence in Baghdad coincided with a much more aggressive US policy toward the influence of Tehran and its pro-Iraqi militias, especially as opponents of Iranian influence there accused the current US ambassador, Douglas Silliman and the US Envoy to the International Coalition fighting ISIS Brett Mcgurk of being weak in the face of the movements of Tehran and the commander of the Quds Force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Qassem Soleimani.


Hawkish on Iran and Houthis

Besides that, the appointment of the new ambassador comes in accordance with the Trump administration’s anti-Iran rhetoric, warning from “the transformation of the Iranian project represented by the Houthis to another version of al-Qaeda terrorist, similar to what happened in Afghanistan, their slogans are death, and murder in the name of religion.”

He also described the Houthis rule in some areas of Yemen as “brutal” and criticized their daily violations and corruption.

Raseef22 said that it was not strange that Tueller were among those who held their position in Yemen with the arrival of Donald Trump to the White House. The ambassador, who was appointed by Obama shares the same position’s as Trump in Middle East issues, before the sitting president came to power.

The outlet added that soon, Tueller is expected to arrive in Iraq and carry out his missions according to one of his main policies: Hostility to Iran and its loyal militias. Predictions can now be expected between his team and Tehran’s allies in Iraq.

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