The US became the world’s unipolar superpower after the end of the Cold War right when Mr. Muallem became the Syrian Ambassador to that country. He was charged with managing Damascus’ changing relations with the world during that very difficult time. It was during that period that both countries attempted to normalize their formerly hostile Cold War-era relations. Although extremely challenging, Mr. Muallem succeeded as best as he could with his very important task.
Just before becoming Foreign Minister, Syria militarily withdrew from neighboring Lebanon in response to the domestic political changes that took place there during its Cedar Revolution after the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Damascus was blamed for that crime but vehemently denied it, and Mr. Muallem provided plenty of evidence in defense of his country to the United Nations. That was his first real challenge in his new post. The year after, in 2007, Israel bombed a suspected nuclear reactor in Syria, which caused a brief crisis.
Mr. Muallem also had to contend with the increasingly aggressive US military presence in neighboring Iraq. Washington had accused Damascus of supporting anti-American militias, and some voices were even urging the Pentagon to go to war against the Arab Republic. Thankfully nothing ever came out of those hawkish cries, but that’s largely the result of Syria’s diplomatic success in standing strong against this bullying. Syrian-American relations then thawed for a short period of time after Secretary of State Kerry visited Damascus in 2010.
It was after the onset of the regional regime change operation popular described as the so-called “Arab Spring” in 2011 that Mr. Muallem became a globally recognized diplomatic figure even though he arguably deserved this distinction earlier for the aforementioned reasons. Syria was victimized by an externally waged hybrid war of terror which included foreign sponsorship of terrorist groups, crippling Western sanctions, and several false accusations that Damascus used chemical weapons against its own people.Syrian Foreign Minister Muallem Was a Multipolar Visionary