America's special envoy to Afghanistan is preparing to step down after nearly a year in one of diplomacy's most taxing jobs, sources tell Reuters. Ryan Crocker—who came out of retirement last summer to become the US ambassador in Kabul—is expected to leave the post as early as this month. The Obama administration is considering Deputy Ambassador James Cunningham as a replacement, the sources say.
Crocker, one of America's most respected diplomats, was one of the high-level officials discussing Afghanistan's future at the NATO summit in Chicago, which confirmed a 2014 troop pullout. Before taking the Afghan post, he served as ambassador to Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait, Lebanon, and, from 2007 to 2009, Iraq. Since his arrival in Kabul last July, he endured a difficult US relationship with President Hamid Karzai, and attacks on the embassy district and the US Embassy itself—which he downplayed as "harassment."