Farouk al-Sharaa

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Farouk al-Sharaa
فاروق الشرع
Farouk Shara.jpg
First Vice President of Syria
Incumbent
Assumed office
21 February 2006
President Bashar al-Assad
Preceded by Abdul Halim Khaddam
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
March 1984 – 21 February 2006
President Hafez al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad
Preceded by Abdul-Halim Khaddam
Succeeded by Walid Muallem
Member of the Regional Command of the Syrian Regional Branch
In office
21 June 2000 – 8 July 2013
Personal details
Born (1938-12-10) 10 December 1938 (age 76)
Damascus, Syria
Political party Syrian Regional Branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party
Other political
affiliations
National Progressive Front
Religion Sunni Islam
Coat of arms of Syria.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Syria

Farouk al-Sharaa (Arabic: فاروق الشرع‎; born 10 December 1938) is a Syrian politician and diplomat. He is one of the most prominent officials in the Syrian government and served as foreign minister of Syria from 1984 until 2006 when he became Vice President of Syria.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Sharaa was born in Damascus on 10 December 1938 to a Sunni Muslim[2][3] family that originates from the Daraa Governorate.[4] He studied English language at the University of Damascus in the 1960s and in 1972 he took courses in international law at the University of London, also he soon earned a bachelor of arts degree.[5]

Early career[edit]

In 1963, Sharaa became a member of the Baath party’s central committee.[6] Until 1977 he served as the head of the state-run Syrian Arab Airlines in Dubai in the sixties and London.[6] Between 1977 and 1980, he served as Syria's ambassador to Italy.[6] In 1980 he was named deputy foreign minister. In 1984 Sharaa was appointed acting minister of informations. In March 1984, Hafez al-Assad, then president of Syria, named him foreign minister, a position that he held until February 2006.[5]

Old guard of the Assad government[edit]

Sharaa has remained an old guard of the Assad administration. He has been very active in negotiating with many countries to gain better relations for Syria. Much of this negotiation has involved Syria's relationships with Lebanon and Israel. Sharaa maintains that Israel should give back all the territory it took from Syria in the 1967 war. He was involved in two attempts to negotiate a reconciliation with Israel in 1991 and 2000.

Political career[edit]

Since Hafez Assad's death in 2000, his son Bashar al-Assad reshuffled his cabinet several times to remove several long-time members. Sharaa, however, remained in office, and became one of the longest-serving foreign ministers in the world. It was believed that Sharaa might be forced to resign when, in October 2005, he was accused of misleading the international investigators in letters about the investigation of possible Syrian involvement in the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Along with President Bashar al-Assad, Sharaa was interviewed in April 2006 in the course of a UN investigation into the death in February 2005 of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

He finally did leave his post as foreign minister on 11 February 2006, when he became vice-president of Syria in charge of foreign affairs. This position had been vacant for months, since the departure of Abdul Halim Khaddam. Some saw his appointment as vice-president as a demotion, since he was expected to have less of a public role in Syrian politics and to lose contact with many diplomats and world leaders. The vice-president in Syria is generally a ceremonial role. However, others believed that Sharaa would now have a greater role in decision-making, since he would be in Syria more often. In the event, Sharaa engaged in high-profile foreign travel as vice president, indicating that his role is envisaged as an active one on the international scene. He will also become the acting president of Syria if President Assad resigns or dies while Sharaa is still vice-president.[7]

Sharaa met with Pope Benedict XVI in September 2007 to discuss the plight of Iraqi Christian refugees in Syria, the Mideast peace processes, and the role and status of the Church in Syria. Sharaa is the chairman of the “national dialogue” committee in Syria.[8]

In 2000 Sharaa was also appointed to the Baath party’s leadership and his term ended in July 2013.[6]

Reports of escape[edit]

Following his absence at a high-level meeting in July 2012, Sharaa was rumored to either be under house-arrest, or to have fled to Jordan.[3] These reports came amidst a wave of fugitives from the Assad government after an increase in violence in the Syrian civil war. However, these reports were proven to be false, since Sharaa represented Bashar al-Assad at the funerals of three senior officials assassinated on 18 July 2012 in Damascus.[9]

In mid-August the spokesperson of the Free Syrian Army announced that Sharaa had fled to Jordan.[10] A spokesman for Sharaa denied this report to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).[11] On 26 August 2012, Sharaa appeared in public in Syria for a second time, disproving false reports that he had fled to Jordan.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Sharaa is married and has two children.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Slackman, Michael (28 March 2011). "Syria Tries to Ease Deep Political Crisis". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  2. ^ "List of persons and entities referred to in articles 3 and 4". Official Journal of the European Union. 24 June 2011. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Syrian vice president’s absence raises questions of his whereabouts". The Times of Israel. 11 July 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Sharp, Jeremy M. (9 August 2011). "Unrest in Syria and U.S. Sanctions Against the Asad Regime" (CRS Report for Congress). Congressional Research Service. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Kechichian, Joseph (25 August 2012). "Farouk Al Shara’a: Affable yet wily diplomat". Gulf News. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "Farouk al-Sharaa, Syrian leader who wanted compromise". Al Arabiya (Beirut). AFP. 9 July 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  7. ^ "Rebels say Syrian vice president defects, regime denies claim". CNN. 18 August 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  8. ^ "Popular Protest in North Africa and the Middle East (VII): The Syrian Regime’s Slow-Motion Suicide" (Report (No: 109)). Crisis Group. 13 July 2011. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  9. ^ "Funeral held for Syria officials killed in bombing". Chicago Tribune. Reuters. 20 July 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  10. ^ "Rebel spokesman: Syrian vice president defects; regime doesn't confirm". CNN. 18 August 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  11. ^ "Vice-President Shara Denies Rumors that He Left Home". Syrian Arab News Agency. 18 August 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  12. ^ "Syrische vicepresident toont zich weer (en is dus niet overgelopen)". NRC Handelsblad (in Dutch). 26 August 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Abdul Halim Khaddam
Minister of Foreign Affairs
1984–2006
Succeeded by
Walid Muallem
Preceded by
Abdul Halim Khaddam
First Vice President of Syria
2006–present
Succeeded by
Incumbent