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President Barack Obama has bypassed the usual process of confirmation by the Senate and directly appointed four new U.S. ambassadors whose nominations had been stalled or blocked by lawmakers for months.

The White House announced on December 29 that Obama was using his power to make "recess," or temporary, appointments to fill ambassador posts to Azerbaijan, the Czech Republic, Syria, and Turkey.

Recess appointments are made when the Senate is not in session, and last only until the end of the next session of Congress.

In his appointments, Obama has named Robert Ford to be ambassador to Syria; Matthew Bryza, who has represented the U.S. as a diplomat in the Caucasus for years, to be ambassador to Azerbaijan; and Frank Ricciardone to be ambassador to Turkey. All three are veteran career diplomats.

In the case of the new envoy to Syria, some senators have been opposing Obama's efforts to reestablish high-level diplomatic relations with the Syrian government, citing Syria's role in Lebanon, ties to Iran and support for Hamas. There has been no U.S. ambassador in Damascus since 2005.

Obama has also made a recess appointment of Norman Eisen, who has worked as an assistant to Obama on government reform, as ambassador to the Czech Republic.

compiled from agency reports
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