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Walid Muallem

Walid Mohi Edine al Muallem[ born 13 January 1941) is a Syrian diplomat and Ba'ath Party member who has served as Foreign Minister since 21 February 2006.

Early life and education

Walid Muallem was born into a Sunni family on 13 January 1941 in Damascus.[2] He received primary and secondary education in public schools from 1948 to 1960. Then he obtained a bachelor of arts degree in economics from Cairo University in 1963.[3]

Career

Muallem is a member of the Syrian Regional Branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party.[4] Muallem began his career at foreign ministry in 1964 and served in Syrian missions to Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Spain and England.[1] He served as Syria's Ambassador to Romania from 1975 to 1980. Next he became the head of authentication and translation department at the foreign ministry in 1980 and his term ended in 1984.[1] Later he served as the head of private offices department from 1984 to 1990. After serving as Syria's ambassador to the United States from 1990 to 2000, Muallem was named as assistant foreign minister in 2000. He was appointed deputy foreign minister in 2005[3] and given the Lebanese file by president Bashar Assad.[5]
He was appointed as minister of foreign affairs on 11 February 2006 during a cabinet reshuffle in which his predecessor Farouk al-Sharaa became vice-president.[1][6] Moallem stated in August 2006, "I am ready to be one of Hassan Nasrallah╩╣s soldiers."[7] He also stated that Syria has a special relationship with Iran.[7] He was involved in Israeli-Syrian negotiations, both before and during his tenure as foreign minister.[8]

2011 Syrian civil war

During the 2011 Syrian civil war, Muallem represented the Syrian government in relations with other national governments and the United Nations. He also held frequent press conferences with Syrian and Arab media outlets.[9] In August 2012, Muallem gave his first interview with a Western journalist since the start of the civil war, in English, referring to foreign intervention as "international terrorism" and stating the government's position that the United States was "the major player against Syria" as the U.S. sought to contain Iran. He also denied the existence of the Shabiha, pro-government, paid militiamen alleged to have committed atrocities early on during the civil war.[10]

In October 2012, after United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged Syria to show compassion in light of the growing humanitarian crisis, Muallem appeared at the United Nations and blamed the United States, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar for "aid[ing] terror" and "blatant interference" in Syria's affairs, mainly by supplying rebel groups with arms and money calling for Bashar Al Assad to step down.[11][12] He called Western concerns over chemical weapons use "a joke" and a pretext for an Iraq War-like campaign.[13] Later that month, Muallem also rejected calls by Ban to declare a unilateral ceasefire, insisting that governments that "finance, train and deliver weapons to the armed groups, notably Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey" be stopped.[14] 

In December 2012, he further blamed United States and European Union sanctions for the suffering in Syria.[15]In January 2013, after United Nations and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said Bashar Al Assad should not take part in a transitional government, Muallem called on opposition groups to join a new cabinet under Al Assad, so long as they "reject foreign intervention."[16]In January 2014, Muallem participated in the Geneva II Middle East peace conference at Montreux. He described the opposition as traitors and terrorists in his initial speech.[17] Despite the conference rules permitting only ten mintues to each speaker, Muallem talked for over forty minutes before finishing and repeatedly ignored UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon attempts to conclude his speech.[18]

Personal life

Muallem is married and has three children.[3]
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