Senate nominates John Rakolta as US envoy to UAE
ABU DHABI - The Senate confirmed Tuesday the nomination of John Rakolta, Jr. as President Donald Trump's ambassador to the United Arab Emirates after almost after almost 18 months of Barbara Leaf’s departure.
Rakolta is a Republican fundraiser with no diplomatic experience and owns the Detroit-based construction company Walbridge Aldinger.
He was confirmed by 63 senators for and 30 against.
His nomination marks the first time the key position is filled by someone who is not a career diplomat.
Rakolta said in a statement to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations last June that the relationship between the UAE and US was critical to Washington’s national security interests and was a moderating and stabilising force in one of the world’s most volatile regions.
His nomination comes amid rising Iranian threats in the Gulf region that Washington is seeking to thwart along with its Gulf Arab allies, especially in the Strait of Hormuz.
“The President has been clear Iran is responsible for the May 12 attacks on four commercial vessels off the coast of Fujairah, UAE and the June 13 attacks on two vessels in the Gulf of Oman. The Iranian regime poses a major threat to freedom of navigation and maritime security from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea,” said Rakolta.
“If confirmed, I will work to support the Administration’s efforts to keep the Strait of Hormuz open, the narrow waterway in the Persian Gulf where 20 percent of global petroleum passes,” he added.