Damascus Appoints Mekdad to Replace Late Muallem as FM
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday appointed Faisal Mekdad to be the country’s new foreign minister, replacing Walid Muallem a week after the latter’s death from reported heart failure. Mekdad was considered a shoo-in for the job after serving as deputy foreign minister since 2006, and in several other diplomatic posts over the years, including Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations. Assad’s current ambassador there, Bashar al-Jaafari, will serve as Mekdad’s deputy. Like his predecessor, Syria’s incoming top diplomat is a staunch supporter of the brutal Damascus regime, which since 2011 has waged a bloody war against its own people with the backing of Russian and Iranian treasure and troops. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Mekdad’s Iranian counterpart, phoned the new foreign minister and congratulated him on his appointment, stressing the importance of Tehran’s “continued strategic cooperation” with Syria. The Syrian civil war, still raging, has taken the lives of over half a million soldiers and civilians, and left nearly 13 million people displaced.