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Mapped: The Absent Ambassadors

Khashoggi ordeal spotlights staffing gap at embassies around the world.

By Elizabeth Miles, Robbie Gramer

October 12, 2018

Nearly two years into the Trump administration, over two dozen ambassador posts remain unfilled and without a nominee—including the ambassador positions in both Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

That staffing gap issue resurfaced in the past week when Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi—who is also a U.S. resident—went missing in Turkey amid reports that he was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Though the U.S. embassies in both countries have diplomatic staff, the absence of an ambassador has implications on the work diplomats do and could send a message that the United States is not fully engaged.

The issue of unfilled posts has sparked a fierce war of words between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and some lawmakers on Capitol Hill: Both sides agree they need to bring American diplomacy up to its full fighting force, but they spar over who’s to blame for the shortage.

Pompeo says Senate Democrats are holding up over 60 State Department hires for positions that require presidential nomination and senate confirmation.

Democrats insist many career diplomats are being confirmed and some other nominees being held up in the senate are unqualified for the job.

Foreign Policy has mapped out all the holes in the U.S. diplomatic system here:

Position filled



No ambassadors exchanged/no diplomatic relations

Ambassadors to International Organizations

Position filled
African Union, European Union, ICAO, NATO, OAS, United Nations, U.N. Conference on Disarmament, U.N. Deputy Representative, U.N. ECOSOC, U.N. Management & Reform, U.N. Vienna

U.N. Geneva (Andrew Bremberg), U.N. Political Affairs (Austin M. Smith), U.N. Rome (Kip Tom), OECD (Pamela Bates)

ASEAN, OSCE, U. N. Human Rights Council, UNESCO

Sources: American Foreign Service Association, U.S. State Department, U.S. Congressional Records

Elizabeth Miles is an editorial fellow at Foreign Policy. Robbie Gramer is a staff writer at Foreign Policy.

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