WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Stephen F. Lynch, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on National Security, recently sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to nominate qualified ambassadors to U.S. diplomatic posts that are critical to U.S. counterterrorism and national security efforts in the Middle East, South Asia, Africa, Latin America, and other regions. According to the American Foreign Service Association, nearly 40 key U.S. embassies are vacant due to a lack of nominations by President Trump.

“The absence of U.S. ambassadors at our diplomatic missions in Jordan, Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia poses a serious challenge to the effectiveness of our counterterrorism operations and diplomatic efforts in the Middle East,” wrote Lynch. “This region is defined by a heightened state of conflict stemming from ongoing civil wars in Syria and Yemen, the escalating use of guerilla tactics by the remaining pockets of the Islamic State, and other destabilizing events. It is also marked by the deployment of more than 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria and an estimated 6,000 troops still deployed in Iraq. National security demands the presence of permanent U.S. diplomatic leadership in the region.”

The U.S. also lacks ambassadors in Pakistan, where Al Qaeda and Islamic State affiliate activity remains an issue, and in Mexico, where bilateral cooperation on security, counter-narcotics, migration, and economic issues is critical. President Trump has also failed to nominate an ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which coordinates global economic policy, combats the threat of terrorist financing and money laundering, and is critical to curbing illicit use of offshore tax havens – an issue particularly relevant to U.S. national security given recent revelations related to the “Panama Papers.”

“In furtherance of U.S. national security and our efforts to safeguard deployed U.S. military and civilian personnel worldwide,” continued Lynch, “it is imperative that you fulfill your constitutional duty and name qualified individuals to serve as U.S. ambassadors at these and other critical diplomatic posts with ambassadorial vacancies.”

Read the letter here.