United States President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday the nomination of David Hale as undersecretary of state for political affairs, the third-highest ranking position in the State Department.
Mr Hale, a career diplomat, who is currently the ambassador to Pakistan and previously served in Lebanon and Jordan, was picked by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to sources.
Mr Pompeo has been looking to bring more gravitas and experienced hands to the senior ranks, following months of delays and the undermined influence of the State Department under his predecessor Rex Tillerson.
Many of these positions stayed vacant or were filled by temporary appointments then, as the decision making on foreign policy issues moved to the Pentagon and White House.
The nomination of Mr Hale brings depth on Middle East issues and knowledge of players in the region. Mr Hale has dealt with most regional figures since 1998. He is known to be a pragmatist, who has tried both in Lebanon and Pakistan to contain crises and build bridges with different sets of political players, some of whom are unpopular in Washington.
His nomination will need to be confirmed by the Senate foreign relations committee. Also awaiting a final vote is David Schenker, the nominee for assistant secretary of state for Near-East affairs, replacing David Satterfield.
The National reported last week that three Middle East hands have left the National Security Council: Joel Rayburn, Mike Bell and James Sindle. The National has also learned from two sources, that Kris Bauman, the National Security Council's point person for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, will be leaving his position. It is unclear whether these departures are part of a routine process among career service officers or follow the appointment of John Bolton as national security adviser.
Mr Bolton has been trying to put together a new team in place and implement Mr Trump’s vision of thinner National Security Council.