By Arab News
John Abizaid, the newly appointed US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, arrived in Riyadh on Thursday. He was welcomed by Deputy Chief of Mission Martina Strong.
Upon arrival, Abizaid said: “I am deeply honored to serve in this role and I look forward to contributing to the important relationship between our two countries. Saudi Arabia and the United States work together every day to protect the security of our two countries, promote prosperity and economic development, and build the people-to-people ties that keep our relationship strong.”
Abizaid retired from the US Army in 2007 after a 34-year military career during which he rose from infantry platoon leader to four-star general and became the longest-serving commander of US Central Command. He also served as director of strategic plans and policy on the joint staff, and as director of the joint staff from 2000 to 2003. The 68-year-old has extensive experience of the Middle East.
After retiring from the army, Abizaid worked as a private consultant, forming his own company, JPA Partners. He was also appointed the inaugural Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, and held the Distinguished Chair of the Combating Terrorism Center at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
He has worked with the Preventative Defense Project at Stanford University and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
He was part of the president’s Intelligence Advisory Board, among many other responsibilities.
He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies. In 2016, the US secretary of defense appointed him to serve as a senior adviser to the Ukrainian defense minister.
Abizaid was a distinguished graduate of the US Military Academy, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in 1973, and earned a master’s degree in Middle Eastern area studies from Harvard University in 1981. A highly decorated army officer, he was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Army’s Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star. He also received military honors from Germany, France, Australia, Afghanistan and Egypt.