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Obama proposes ex-Bush official as envoy to Iraq

WASHINGTON ? President Barack Obama on Monday nominated a former member of president George W. Bush’s national security staff to be the next US ambassador to Iraq.

If the Senate approves his nomination, Brett McGurk will become the first US ambassador to Iraq since the United States withdrew all its troops from the country in December 2011 after nearly nine years.

McGurk has plenty of experience in Iraq: currently he is senior advisor to US Ambassador James Jeffrey, and served in Baghdad as senior advisor to the previous two US ambassadors, Ryan Crocker and Christopher Hill.

From 2005 to 2009, during the Bush presidency, McGurk served on the National Security Council, first as director for Iraq and later as special presidential assistant and senior director on Iraq and Afghanistan.

Before 2005, McGurk was a legal advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority — the US-led transitional government led Paul Bremer that took over soon after Saddam’s ouster — and to the US embassy in Baghdad.

Obama nominated Jeffrey in June 2010, and he was confirmed by the senate two months later.

An attorney by training, McGurk was also a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics.

From 2001 to 2002 he served as a law clerk for then-Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and earlier served as a law clerk for two federal judges.

The nomination comes as Iraq is dealing with a wave of violence, including attacks that killed some 45 people in more than a dozen Iraqi cities on March 20, the anniversary of the US-led invasion of the country.

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