Elliott Abrams

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Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Still Vacant: The Post of Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom

by Elliott Abrams
March 25, 2014


In January, I noted the vacancy in the post of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. As I wrote then,

When the Obama administration began, the post of Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom was vacant. This post, at the State Department, was established by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 because Congress wanted State, and the entire Executive Branch, to pay more attention to the issue of religious freedom. (The act also established the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, of which I am a  member.)

The Obama administration filled the post of Ambassador at Large–in April,2011, more than two years after the president came to office. That’s one good way to judge what priority White House has given to the issue.

On February 6, the President spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast and said this:

We will keep standing for religious freedom around the world….I look forward to nominating our next ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom to help lead these efforts.

That was 47 days ago and he’s still “looking forward to nominating” someone. President Obama’s appointee resigned in October, so the post has now been vacant for five months. I assume it won’t take two years this time, but it is a bit mysterious why it seems impossible for the administration to demonstrate any interest in this post and to get it filled. Mysterious, and disgraceful.


Post a Comment 12 Comments

  • Posted by ah

    And interestingly, just like in your previous post, you intentionally forgot to mention that an ambassador was nominated in mid-2010; however, the Senate put the nomination on hold. It certainly was not the Democrats who put the nomination on hold.

    What’s disgraceful is how you manipulate and omit facts to support your partisan agenda.

  • Posted by Lily

    The White House and/or State Department have received one Muslim Brotherhood leader from abroad after another in recent months. At least two of them have signed declarations calling for attacks against US troops; another has expressed verbal support for attacks against US troops. Since when are such inciters fit company for the ‘commander-in-chief’?
    I’d place my bet on the nominal ‘commander-in-chief’ mulling over a Muslim Brotherhood member for the post. The decision must be a difficult one because there are so many to choose from, and therefore so many to disappoint.

  • Posted by ah

    Lily – back your statements up with links. I believe you are dealing in falsehoods here.

  • Posted by Lily

    I have no need to trade in falsehoods — your hero gives us all the evidence we need. Your accusation likely stems from mirror-imaging: this is what the obama-can-do-no-wrong camp dabbles in, is it not?

    Anyhow, I’m on my way out, but shall post all the links you need later today. Surprised that you need them though — are you only reading material produced by fawning self-censored media sources?

  • Posted by Lily

    ah, as promised:

    Abdallah Bin Bayyah is a Global Muslim Brotherhood figure and vice president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS). In 2004, the IUMS ruled that “resisting occupation troops in Iraq is a ‘duty’ on every able Muslim in and outside the war-torn country.” http://www.globalmbwatch.com/2013/06/26/qaradawi-associate-meets-white-house-abdallah-bin-bayyah-close-saudi-figure-ties-al-qaeda-hamas-support/

    Abdallah Bin Bayyah is defined by his anti-Semitism. Inciters against US troops, as well as vile anti-Semites, are equally welcome in today’s White House.



    Rachid Ghannouchi is assistant secretary general of the IUMS (and therefore signatory to the ruling mentioned above), and leader of the Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood. There is lots on him here — note that anti-Semitism defines him too.

    In August 2004, 93 Islamists, including Ghannouchi, signed a jihad declaration — supporting uprisings by Iraqis against the “filth of occupation” — see story in Al-Quds al-Arabi.

    Ghannouchi also signed the Istanbul jihad declaration in 2009.

    In February 2014, Rachid Ghannouchi met with several senior policymakers in Washington, including Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns. He also saw Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor and Assistant to obama.

    Anas Altikriti, a UK-based MB leader, supported the iraqi insurgency against US troops. The commander-in-chief nevertheless received him in the White House: http://www.globalmbwatch.com/2014/01/27/featured-story-uk-muslim-brotherhood-leader-meets-obama-white-house-anas-altikriti-supported-iraqi-insurgents/

  • Posted by ah

    First of all, it is no surprise that half of the links on your website detailing alleged meetings between officials and the White House do not work.

    Secondly, to criticize meetings between the White House and Ghannouchi is ridiculous as it simply demonstrates your lack of understanding of Middle East politics. The US SHOULD be meeting with major political figures of these countries, just as it should be meeting with members of the Muslim Brotherhood across these countries, because whether you like it or not, these are political actors in the region.

    You seem to have had no problem with previous administrations meeting with various other dictators, alleged terrorists, or other parties allegedly working against the interests of the United States, so I can only chalk it up to a general Islamaphobia or lack of understanding of the region in general.

  • Posted by Lily

    ah, I gather the facts were not to your liking. Had I known you were going to fall back on the usual cover-ups and excuse-making, I would not have bothered responding to you. I’ll remember to ignore your whining next time. BTW, there is nothing wrong with the links.

  • Posted by ah

    Nice try, no excuses have been made. Simply assertions that your “facts” have nothing to do with reality. Please do remember to take note of my “whining” as you actually may learn something about a region which you clearly do not understand.

  • Posted by Lily

    ah, your ignorance precedes you — and that’s putting it mildly.

  • Posted by ah

    For some reason Lily, I imagine you as some small town southern girl who has never left your village, yet have big dreams of visiting the “big city” some day.

    Until then, I would suggest lots of reading and informing yourself from sites other than Fox News, the random Islamaphobic white power sites you linked to, and Anne Coulter.

  • Posted by Lily

    ah, I advise you to stop projecting your own shortcomings onto others. What a peculiar string of thoughts you suffer from: it so happens that I lived in an Arab country for 12 years; I never watch Fox or any television news because I don’t like having the ‘news’ chosen and filtered for me; nor do I like being told what to think.
    It is uncanny how little you differ from your Mideastern thinkalikes: they have been told by their governments what to think all their lives; you have been told what to think by the liberal media. Both categories have my full sympathy. BTW, this is my last note to you. If and when you overcome your aversion to facts, I’ll re-consider.

  • Posted by ah

    Haha amazing Lily. You basically just signed off your response with “uhhh ummmm you’re a stupid head, so I’m not going to talk to you anymore”. Beautifully stated I must say.

    All the previous statements still stand – educate yourself, read a book, think rationally about the world, and only then will you be a valuable contributor on this board. (and living in an illegal Israel Jewish settlement on Palestinian land does not count as “lived in an Arab country for 12 years.” sorry

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