As Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad starves his people, he sends his top henchman, Deputy Syrian Prime Minister Wallid Al Muallem, to
obfuscate negotiate with the world.
After meeting with Nancy Pelosi in Syria in 2007, Muallem said, “Dialogue is… the only method to close the gap existing between [the U.S. and Syria].”
Seven years and hundreds of thousands of Syrians later, Muallem continues the dialogue at the Geneva 2 conference. During meetings on January 23, he lectured Secretary of State John Kerry, and he interrupted and berated U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Given seven minutes to speak, he lasted 40 minutes. At the 30 minute mark, Ban Ki-moon tried to intervene one last time, but Muallem insisted that he be allowed to continue. (Quite an appropriate symbol for the ineffective efforts to stop the Syrian regime, if you ask me.) He swore he was almost finished speaking: “Syria always keeps its promises.” That may not be true, but that won’t stop the rest of the world from believing him.
Muallem is the ultimate Ba’ath party loyalist. Graduating with a degree in economics at Cairo University in 1963, he joined the Syrian foreign ministry in 1964, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA). For the past 50 years, Muallem has been an accomplice to a coup, the 1982 Hama massacre, the arming and financing of Hezbollah, the occupation of Lebanon (and the assassination of Rafic Hariri), the gassing of thousands of innocent Syrian civilians, and the cold-blooded murder of thousands more.
And yet . . . according to a leaked 2006 State Department document, he was “considered the most experienced, capable, and pro-U.S. diplomat in the [Syrian] Foreign Ministry.” His elevation to Foreign Minister was considered a sign that “Syria wants good relations and dialogue with the U.S.”
In 2008, a year after Hezbollah initiated a war with Israel, Muallem met with then-Senator Arlen Specter and then-Represenative Patrick Kennedy. Muallem reported that Syria was ready to make peace with Israel, so long as Israel relinquished the Golan Heights. Due to their previous encounters, Specter and Muallem shared a “warm rapport.” Kennedy, much to his credit, pressed Muallem on Syria’s record on human rights, in particular the arrests of opposition figures. Muallem demurred, and changed the subject to Abu Ghraib.
There are those who see Muallem as not all that different from themselves. He wears a suit and tie, not a turban or army fatigues; and he is fluent in the bureaucratese, the lingua franca of Davos types. Like all card-carrying members of the international community, he blames U.S. policy (especially its support for Israel) for the world’s problems—he hates Guantanamo Bay, too! We have so much in common! Hell, he was even chummy with Arlen Specter.
I am not one of those people. Who is Walid al-Muallem, really? He is not a dignified and negotiable world leader. Let’s be honest: If he wasn’t busy whitewashing Assad’s crimes against his own people, then he’d be busy whitewashing his crimes against other peoples. He’s a cheap propagandist, who wipes the blood off his master’s hands and declares them clean.