Nikki Haley has resigned as the US ambassador to the United Nations, and will leave her post at the end of the year, in a move that stunned allied diplomats and other senior officials.
Haley and Donald Trump announced her departure in the Oval Office. The timing came as a surprise to her colleagues at the state department and at the UN security council.
The secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and the national security adviser, John Bolton, are reported to have been taken unawares. But the president she had told him about her plans some months ago, informing she wanted to “take a break” after two years in the high-profile post.
Haley refuted speculation that she was leaving to take a run at the presidency, saying she had no plans to run in 2020 and would be campaigning for Trump. Both the president and the outgoing envoy heaped praise on each other, to emphasise that she was not leaving on hard terms.
It was a blessing to go into the U.N. with body armor every day and defend America. I’ll never truly step aside from fighting for our country. But I will tell you that I think it’s time.”
– Nikki Haley | US Ambassador to the United Nations
A former governor of South Carolina, Haley has been one of Trump’s most high-profile lieutenants, acting as the international face of an administration that has lacked a clear foreign policy doctrine . However, she pursued an outspoken policy direction that was sometimes at odds with the White House, particularly on the subject of Russia.
While Trump has been reticent about criticising the Kremlin, Haley was a persistent, trenchant critic of Russian policy in Syria and Ukraine , and over the chemical weapon attack against a former Russian spy in the UK in March. She also spoke out on human rights issues more frequently and fervently than others in the state department.
On other issues – unconditional support for Israel, unflinching hostility to Iran, North Korea and Venezuela – she was the most articulate exponent of hardline positions.
Earlier this year, she announced that the US was withdrawing from the United Nations human rights council , which she described as a “cesspool of political bias”.
The timing of Haley’s departure caught diplomats at the UN by surprise. She appears not to have given any indication of her intentions to colleagues on the security council.
But few of the diplomats she worked with expected her to stay in the UN role for the full four years of Trump’s presidential term. She was universally seen as a politician using the UN post to burnish her image and bide her time while it served her presidential ambitions.
“I didn’t see this coming – there had been no immediate signs,” one diplomat said. “Having said that I always thought that she wouldn’t do much more than two years in the job and then position herself for something else.”
Her departure will raise anxiety levels for US allies at the UN. Despite her pointed rhetoric – warning any country who voted against the US that she was “taking names” and making lists of friends and enemies – she acted as a bridge between Trump and his UN-despising Bolton. She succeeded in convincing
Trump that the UN served a useful purpose for US national interests.
At this year’s general assembly, the president stayed for nearly four days, taking part in multiple meetings and for the first time chairing a security council session.
However, her relative position within the administration has been diminishing since the arrival of Pompeo at the head of the state department. Under Pompeo’s predecessor Rex Tillerson, Haley had a free hand, as Tillerson took a low-key approach to his job and was frequently at odds with Trump, who often ignored him.
Source: Gulf News