America’s new ambassador to Iraq, James Jeffrey, arrived in Baghdad last week and presented his diplomatic credentials to President Jalal Talabani.
He replaces Christopher Hill, who retired after a 16-month stint in the post, and a 33-year career in the diplomatic service.
Unlike Hill, Jeffrey already has wide experience in this part of the world, including serving in Baghdad as deputy chief of mission and then charge d’affaires from June 2004 to June 2005.
Mr Jeffrey could hardly be coming at a more interesting time. The US pulled its combat troops out last week ahead of schedule, and will be scaling back its non-combat military presence over the next year.
Politically, the power vacuum still remains unfilled, to the frustration of many both locally and abroad.
By the time Jeffrey leaves office, we can only hope that Iraq will be further along the road to prosperity, and will not have slipped back further into the violence that we have seen in recent days.
Let’s wish Mr Jeffrey every success in his new post, and hope that he will be a positive force for Iraq’s development.