Biden to nominate Michael Ratney as envoy to Saudi Arabia
President Biden will nominate Michael Ratney, a career member of the foreign service, to serve as ambassador to Saudi Arabia, the White House announced Friday.
Ratney most recently served as the Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem while Biden’s choice for ambassador to Israel, Thomas Nides, awaited confirmation. He has served in various State Department roles focused on Israel and the Middle East.
If confirmed, Ratney would serve as Biden’s envoy to the Kingdom at a precarious time for U.S.-Saudi affairs. The Biden administration has looked to Saudi Arabia and others to step up oil supply amid rising gas prices after the U.S. and some other nations banned Russian oil imports over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Relations with Saudi Arabia have also been complicated given the kingdom’s human rights abuses, particularly the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Biden vowed last year to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for Khashoggi’s murder after U.S. officials determined Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing.
The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Crown Prince Mohammed refused to speak with Biden about the U.S. banning Russian oil imports. The White House called the report inaccurate.