The US Senate has confirmed Michael Ratney as the next US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, filling one of several vacant diplomatic posts in the region.
In April 2022, US President Joe Biden nominated Mr Ratney as US ambassador to Saudi Arabia. The nomination puts one of the State Department's most experienced Middle East hands in charge of the post in Riyadh.
Mr Ratney, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, speaks fluent Arabic and has served across the Middle East, most recently as charge d’affaires at the US embassy in Jerusalem.
Before that, he served as the State Department’s acting deputy assistant secretary for the Levant and Israel and Palestinian affairs, and as US special envoy for Syria.
Other regional assignments have included posts in Doha, Beirut and Baghdad.
The US did not assign an ambassador to Saudi Arabia for two years after former President Donald Trump took office. He then picked John Abizaid to be the envoy.
The post of US ambassador to Saudi Arabia has been vacant since Mr Abizaid left in January 2021.
During his confirmation hearing at the US Senate in July, Mr Ratney said Yemen's Houthi rebels launched more than 400 cross-border attacks over the past year on infrastructure, schools, mosques and workplaces and vowed to strengthen Saudi Arabia's defences with Washington's help.
“If confirmed, I will work to strengthen Saudi defences through security co-operation and training, demonstrating the durable American commitment to our partners and allies and to our values,” Mr Ratney told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.