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Senate Confirms David Schenker as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs

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The Washington Institute Congratulates Scholar-Practitioner on Confirmation to Top Mideast Diplomatic Post

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate confirmed David Schenker today to assume the post of Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, with a bipartisan consensus vote of 83-11. Schenker - the Institute's Aufzien Fellow - becomes the State Department's senior official responsible for Middle East issues.

"David Schenker's career has been dedicated to enhancing the quality of U.S. Middle East policy, and it is only fitting he should now be the one enacting such policies at such a critical time for U.S. interests in the region," said Executive Director Robert Satloff. "He will undoubtedly bring the same leadership, dedication, and brilliance to the State Department that he has demonstrated as director of the Beth and David Geduld Program on Arab Politics for over a decade."

"We feel immense pride knowing David will lead the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, bringing with him the balanced and realistic understanding of American interests in the Middle East for which the Institute is known. We are confident in his ability to craft and execute policy that will promote peace and security to the U.S. and its allies," remarked Institute President Shelly Kassen and Chairman James Schreiber. 

Schenker has served as director of the Institute's Program on Arab Politics since 2006. Previously, he served in the George W. Bush administration as Levant country director in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In that capacity, he was responsible for advising the secretary and senior Pentagon leaders on the military and political affairs of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. His service was recognized with the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service in 2005.

Prior to joining the Pentagon, Schenker was a research fellow at the Institute, focusing on Arab governance. As the author of numerous books on Iraq, Jordan, and on Palestinian politics, his commentary on Arab affairs appears often in prominent scholarly journals and leading media outlets. Fluent in Arabic, Schenker received his master's degree from the University of Michigan and his undergraduate degree from the University of Vermont.

Ambassador Barbara Leaf, an Institute senior fellow and a veteran diplomat who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Arab Emirates from 2014-2018, succeeds Schenker as director of the Beth and David Geduld Program on Arab Politics.

About the Washington Institute: The Washington Institute is an independent, nonpartisan research institution funded exclusively by U.S. citizens that seeks to advance a balanced and realistic understanding of American interests in the Middle East and to promote the policies that secure them. Drawing on the research of its fellows and the experience of its policy practitioners, the Institute promotes informed debate and scholarly research on U.S. policy in the region.

Media Contact : Erika Naegeli, 202-452-0650, email.