Egypt's role 'vital' to Middle East peace, says Biden's nominee for ambassador to Cairo

Washington scrambles to fill crucial diplomatic posts during Israel-Gaza war

Herro Mustafa Garg is Joe Biden's nominee for the ambassador to Egypt. Photo: American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria
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US President Joe Biden's nominee for the ambassador to Egypt vowed to partner with Cairo on “urgent” humanitarian needs in Gaza, at a key hearing towards her confirmation as Washington scrambles to fill crucial diplomatic posts.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a nomination hearing on Thursday for Herro Mustafa Garg, who would take her post in Cairo as it plays a vital role in diplomatic efforts to mitigate the Gaza crisis.

“Egyptians like to refer to their country as 'umm watanya,' the mother of the world. We are witnessing in real-time Egypt's vital role as we strive to protect American citizens, secure the immediate and unconditional release of hostages, prevent harm to civilians, and prevent the conflict from spreading,” said Ms Mustafa Garg.

Jeff Merkley, a US senator, noted the “urgency” of the moment, with a backlog of at least 23 US nominees in a moment of global crisis.

“There's conflict in the Gulf, the Middle East. The United States currently does not have confirmed ambassadors in Lebanon, Egypt and Israel … This is unacceptable. The United States cannot expect to lead the free world if the United States does not even have someone in the room,” said Mr Merkley.

Mr El Sisi said Israel's onslaught on the Gaza Strip was an attempt to force Gazans to move to the Sinai, which he said Egypt would not allow.

Ms Mustafa Gard said the US embassy in Cairo should play a “very, very active role” in conducting oversight and maintaining control over aid that's provided to Palestinians in Gaza, and that the “fluid” situation on the border has “unfortunately delayed” humanitarian efforts there.

“The concerns of the Egyptians regarding the influx of the refugees, the border security, and of course, Israel's own security is extremely important … So active engagement with all of the parties and with the UN is extremely important to make sure this important mission is achieved,” she said.

The Senate committee nomination hearing also followed its former chairman Bob Menendez stepping down from his leadership role after a federal indictment scandal charged him with acting as an unregistered agent for Cairo.

Ms Mustafa Garg came to the US as a refugee from Kurdish Iraq. She became the first American ambassador of Kurdish descent in her previous role as Washington's ambassador to Bulgaria. She speaks English, Kurdish, Arabic, Farsi, Greek, Hindi, Bulgarian and Portuguese.

Updated: October 19, 2023, 5:00 PM