US Ambassador to Qatar Dana Shell Smith raised eyebrows this week after posting a tweet that appeared to criticize President Donald Trump and his government.
Smith, a career diplomat who began her Doha post in 2014, tweeted that it was becoming “increasingly difficult” to explain US democracy and institutions to others.
Increasingly difficult to wake up overseas to news from home, knowing I will spend today explaining our democracy and institutions.
— CdA Natalie A. Baker (@USAmbQatar) May 10, 2017
The post came just a few hours after news broke that Trump had fired FBI director James Comey. The FBI had been investigating potential ties between Trump’s 2016 campaign team and Russian officials.
The US Embassy has not yet responded to a request for comment about the tweet.
But the message has gotten nearly 10,000 likes on Twitter. However, it also drew criticism from people who said it was inappropriate for diplomats to criticize the president.
@AmbDana Increasingly difficult waking up knowing there’s an Ambassador to Qatar that doesn’t have our country’s best interest at heart.
— Pink Lady 4 Trump♥ (@pink_lady56) May 11, 2017
In apparent response to the backlash, Smith explained the next day that she is regularly called upon “to explain and defend” her nation’s political system.
She added that this is particularly difficult “when partisan acrimony is so high.”
Diplomats explain & defend our political system.Can be tough when partisan acrimony so high, but there is still no greater country. #USA 🇺🇸
— Ambassador Timmy T. Davis (@USAmbQatar) May 11, 2017
A career diplomat
Shortly after Trump was sworn in as president in January, he fired all US Ambassadors who had been directly appointed by his predecessor Barack Obama.
However, Smith remained in her post, as she was not a political appointment.
At the time, the US Embassy in Qatar told Doha News that as such, Smith “looked forward to continuing her service to the United States as Ambassador to Qatar under the next Administration.”
Many in the US and internationally were shocked when Trump won the election in November, instead of his opponent Hillary Clinton.
At the time, the US Embassy held an early breakfast reception at the W Doha to watch the results coming in.
Smith wore a cream-colored pant suit – a possible nod to Clinton’s outfit of choice – and sought to reassure people about Qatar-US ties, saying:
“Our relationship is strong today and will continue to be after our next president is inaugurated.”
Smith is fluent in Arabic and has served in the UAE, Jordan, Israel, the Gaza Strip, Egypt and Taiwan during her time with the US State Department.