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Reports: Akouri considered for ambassador to Lebanon

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — John Akouri, president and CEO of the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce in Royal Oak, is under consideration as the next ambassador to Lebanon, according to reports.

Akouri is a former city councilman in Farmington Hills and a GOP strategist who co-chaired President Donald Trump’s campaign in Michigan.

Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley offered his support in a Thursday post on Akouri’s Facebook page: “My dear friend John Akouri will make an outstanding Ambassador to Lebanon!”

The White House has not announced Akouri’s nomination or confirmed his candidacy for the diplomatic post.

Overseas Arabic-language news articles name Akouri as a candidate for the Lebanese ambassadorship, said Fay Beydoun, executive director of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce.

“He’s probably on a short list, but I’ve not seen anything that it’s confirmed,” Beydoun said.

Republican National Committeewoman Kathleen Berden said Akouri would do an excellent job in the position.

“He’s highly intelligent and motivated and just has a heart for people. He’s the most outgoing, wonderful person,” said Berden, who got to know Akouri during the Trump campaign.

“And his heritage is from there. I just cannot think of anyone else who could hold a candle to him.”

Akouri previously worked in Washington as a senior adviser to former U.S. Rep. Joe Knollenberg, R-Bloomfield Hills, and as a media consultant to former U.S. Sen. Spence Abraham when the Auburn Hills Republican was energy secretary under President George W. Bush, according to a bio on his blog.

Akouri has appeared on FOX-2 News and NBC’s WDIV-TV as a Middle East commentator. He unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination for the state House in Oakland County in 2002 and for the Wayne State Board of Governors in 2006. He previously served as ethnic vice chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.

He told The Detroit News during the presidential campaign last fall that many members of the Middle Eastern community supported Trump.

“We know he is the only candidate who can bring the necessary change needed to unleash our economy and make the world a safer and more peaceful place,” Akouri said in a statement.

“Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's poor judgment at home and in the Middle East has already cost us too much — we simply cannot afford what would be nothing more than a third Obama term. On the most important issues, such as jobs, the economy, education, public safety and national security, I trust Donald Trump, a successful and straight-talking businessman, far more than I could ever trust a deceptive, career politician like Hillary Clinton.”

Akouri did not respond Thursday to calls for comment.

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Staff Writer Neal Rubin contributed.