US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to name the new special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan this week. The post has been vacant since the sudden death of Richard Holbrook in December.
Marc Grossman, former ambassador to Turkey
After months of delay caused by disagreements between the White House and the State Department over the extent of the job, Hillary Clinton is expected to name the retired diplomat Marc Grossman as the next US special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Washington Post and New York Times cited anonymous senior officials as their sources.
The Washington Post, which first reported on Clinton’s choice, said that she will announce Grossman’s appointment on Friday at the latest at the Asia Society in New York, where she is due to give a speech on the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Several other candidates were also considered to replace Holbrook, who died of a torn aorta last December. At the moment, the position is being temporarily filled by Frank Ruggiero, who served as the head of the provincial reconstruction team in southern Afghanistan.
30 years of diplomatic career
Holbrooke held the position for almost two years
Marc Grossman used to be an ambassador for Turkey and assistant secretary of the state for European affairs. He is currently the vice chairman of the international consulting firm Cohen Group. After the 9/11 attacks, he helped marshal international diplomatic support for the global war on terrorism and for the military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. During the second Bush administration, he was under secretary for political affairs – one of the highest ranking jobs for a diplomat career in the US State Department. He retired from the state department in 2005, ending a diplomatic carreer of almost 30 years.
Crucial time in Afghanistan and Pakistan
As the new Afghan-Pakistan envoy, the 59-year old would face some other extensive challenges, as Obama’s administration is aiming to start ending the US presence later this year. The first US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan is due to begin in July 2011. Afghan forces are due to take responsibility from 2014.
One of Grossman’s first tasks in Afghanistan would be advising Clinton on new senior diplomats to replace the US ambassador Karl Eikenberry and other officials at the Kabul embassy. At the moment the US government is lacking officials with experience in Afghanistan .
Obama is planning to reduce US presence in Afghanistan
In Pakistan, Grossman would need to ease the diplomatic tension caused by the detention of US embassy employee Raymond Davis, accused of killing two Pakistanis. Washington insists that Davis has diplomatic immunity and should be released. The Pakistani government says the matter should be decided on in court. As one of the largest recipients of American military aid, Pakistan, on the one hand, risks loosing support from the US by keeping Davis in jail. But on the other hand, it also fears that Islamist groups will hold protests if Davis is freed. Senator John Kerry, seeking to resolve the crisis, is expected to arrive in Islamabad this Tuesday, February 15th.
Author: Anggatira Gollmer (Reuters, Afp, Dpa)
Editor: Sarah Berning