By Justin Sink - 05/08/14 05:44 PM EDT
President Obama has named Robert Beecroft, the current U.S. ambassador to Iraq, as the next ambassador to Egypt, filling a job that had been vacant for nine months amid tensions between the U.S. and Cairo.
Beecroft will be replaced in Baghdad by Stuart Jones, the current ambassador to Jordan, according to the White House.
He enters the job with the apparent blessing of Egyptian officials, who earlier this year scuttled the selection of longtime diplomat Robert Ford to head the Cairo embassy.
According to the Washington Post, members of the military-backed interim Egyptian government were worried about Ford's ties to Islamist political movements, including the Syrian opposition. Ford served as ambassador to Syria before the U.S. ended diplomatic relations with the Assad regime two years ago amid the country's brutal civil war.
Tensions with Cairo — a traditional U.S. ally — have soured in recent months, as the interim government has cracked down against protesters angry with the military's decision to unseat President Mohammed Morsi, the nation's first freely elected leader. More recently, Egyptian courts have sentenced hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members to death.
Jones, a career diplomat, served as governorate coordinator in Al Anbar Province in Iraq and on the National Security Council as country director for Iraq. His replacement as U.S. ambassador to Jordan has not been announced.
In a statement, Obama heralded Beecroft and Jones as "talented individuals."
"I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come," Obama said.