Ryan Crocker, US ambassador to Afghanistan, is stepping down


President Barack Obama and Ryan Crocker in the East Room of the White House on April 28, 2011.


Brendan Smialowski

Ryan C. Crocker, the US ambassador to Afghanistan, will step down this summer after less than a year on the job, the American Embassy in Kabul announced today, according to the New York Times.

Crocker, 62, had originally intended to serve as ambassador for two years, the New York Times reported. The Associated Press reported Crocker is leaving for health reasons.

A highlight of Crocker’s short time in Afghanistan was helping to negotiate a strategic partnership agreement between the United States and Afghanistan that sets up the nature of the two nations’ relationship over the next decade, the New York Times reported.

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The Obama administration is considering replacing Crocker with the current deputy ambassador to Afghanistan, James Cunningham, sources told Reuters. Cunningham was ambassador to Israel before he came to Kabul with Crocker last summer and was highly involved in the strategic partnership negotiations, the New York Times reported.

Crocker came out of retirement – leaving his post-government job serving as dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University – to become President Barack Obama’s top envoy in Kabul in July 2011, Reuters reported.

When nominating the Crocker to replace Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, Obama called him "one of our nation's most respected diplomats" who "is no stranger to tough assignments," the AP reported.

According to Reuters:

Crocker earned respect in his earlier role as US ambassador to Iraq from 2007-2009, when a surge in US forces was credited with helping to calm a country convulsed by sectarian violence.

Crocker has been the US ambassador in six countries – Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kuwait, Lebanon and Syria – the AP reported.

"Ryan Crocker has served the nation with such distinction and such a long time,” Sen. John McCain, told reporters on hearing the news, according to the AP. “I respect his decisions whatever they may be. Obviously I'd like him to stay forever. But he has other understandable priorities."

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