Obama nominates Syria envoy as Tunisia ambassador
WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
President Barack Obama shakes hands with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 21, 2015. AP photoUS President Barack Obama on June 8 tapped Syria envoy Daniel Rubinstein to become the next ambassador to Tunisia, a sign of the North African country's growing strategic importance.
The White House issued a statement announcing that Rubinstein, a senior diplomat, would leave his post as the administration's point man on Syria, a role he began in March 2014.
His tenure as seen ebbs and flows in Bashar al-Assad's political fortunes, but the persistently bloody conflict looks no closer to ending.
It was not immediately clear who would become Obama's third Syria envoy.
The White House announcement follows Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi's high profile visits to the White House and to a meeting of G7 leaders in Germany.
Essebsi is the first democratically elected leader in Tunisia's 60-year history.
The country was the epicenter for the Arab Spring and is arguably the only country to emerge from the tumult both democratic and relatively stable.
But Essebsi is grappling with serious security threats, including chaos in neighboring Libya and a March attack on the Bardo National Museum that killed 21 tourists.
During the White House visit in May, Obama declared Tunisia a "non-NATO ally," which would allow for enhanced military cooperation and the transfer of advanced weapons.
Obama restated his previous pledge to ask Congress to approve $138 million in assistance for Tunisia next year, which includes $62.5 million in military financing.