The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved John Abizaid to become the new U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, filling the position that has been void for more than two years.
The Senate voted 92-7 to approve the retired Army general for the position, which has been in the center of contention between the Republican and Democratic parties amid a rocky relationship between the U.S. Congress and Saudi Arabia.
Both parties traded blames on leaving the important position vacant for more than two years, since the former U.S. ambassador in Riyadh left the kingdom in January 2017 before Donald Trump came to power.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused the Democrats of "holding up" the appointment, while Democratic lawmakers said a late nomination from the White House has led to the prolonged vacancy.
Abizaid, 68, served until 2007 as the commander of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East. The experience would have prepared him for his future responsibilities of managing a bilateral relationship that plays a pivotal role in the stability of the Middle East.