Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem Dies at 79
Syria’s long-time foreign minister, Walid Muallem, died Monday at the age of 79, the government announced on state television. The Syrian state news agency SANA carried an official government announcement early on Monday but did not specify the cause of death. Muallem reportedly had been ill for several years with a heart condition. The veteran diplomat, who had been foreign minister since 2006, was ambassador to the United States from 1990 to 2000. He started his career in 1964 and served in Syrian diplomatic missions in Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Spain and England. He was Syria’s ambassador to Romania from 1975 to 1980. Muallem also was named Syria’s deputy foreign minister in 2012, a year after the start of Syria’s deadly civil war. In news conferences, he was known for his mocking stances against the West, which he accused of conspiring to start the conflict. During his first interview with Western media, in September 2012, Muallem accused the United States of being behind the violence in Syria. “We believe that the US is the major player against Syria and the rest are its instruments,” he told The Independent.