Jihad Makdissi (Arabic: جهاد مقدسي) was the Foreign Ministry spokesman of the Syrian government from 1998 to 2012. He is a member of Syria's (Catholic) Christian minority and one of the few members of Assad's government fluent in English and French.
Makdissi graduated from Al-Nour high school in Damascus and studied in Paris at the ENA. He received his master's degree in Diplomacy and International Relations in 2009 from the University of Westminster and his doctorate from the unaccredited American University of London in Media Studies in 2011. Prior to becoming official spokesman, he had worked for five years in Syria's London embassy.
On 2 December 2012 it was rumoured that he had been sacked from his position and left for the United Kingdom. Subsequently, additional rumours circulated stating that Makdissi had not been sacked but had instead defected. Al Arabiya News reported that a Syrian government spokesman had stated that he was on three months agreed leave while Hezbollah stated that he had been dismissed for "improvising statements" and Al-Manar TV reported that he was fired for straying from the official positions of the Syrian Government. In late December 2012, it was reported that Makdissi had fled to the United States.
On 30 January 2013, it was reported on Asharq Al-Awsat that he had not defected to the United States or Britain, as had previously been reported, but rather travelled to visit his family in Lebanon and from there defected to one of the Gulf states (Abu Dhabi-UAE), where he had arranged for residency for himself, his wife and his children. and he has launched his own private Consultancy Firm
Makdissi issued a press release mid-February 2013 in which he stated that he had resigned because of Syria's "violence and polarization that left no place for moderation and diplomacy" and apologized to Syrian families if they had thought that he had not understood their suffering while in his diplomatic position.
Makdissi gave an lengthy interview to the New York Times in January 2014 in which he talked about his political position as a Syrian Christian and independent politician, and he mentioned that a diplomat should serve his country and is not a lawyer who can accept any case, when things headed towards an armed conflict with no more room for politics, he refused to be a lawyer for one side and the diplomat inside of him won over. He also made it clear that he is an independent politician who believes and works for peaceful political solution in Syria and he is a strong supporter of the Geneva platform and Process.
Makdissi gave another lengthy interview ( 9th of Feb 2016 ) for a Syrian o famous opposition news site ( The New Syrian ) where he talked for the very first time about his resignation and his political affiliation as independent member of the Cairo Conference for the Syrian Opposition and how he has been working for political transition in Syria based on the Geneva Process, Vienna Document and UNSCR 2254. he said that The Syrian Regime never considered giving any real political concession to absorb the growing uprising in the street and the last serious initiative that was presented by the regime is the SAHARA conference in 2012 . he stressed that Syrian Christians are among the founding fathers of Syria and not second class citizens, they will continue to be the glue of the Syrian society and he believes they can play the role of the bridge among other major sects in Syria. he stressed that there is no military solution in Syria and the only allowed way is the negotiated Settlement and an understanding among international powers is a must to achieve transition especially Russia and the USA .
- Associated Press (23 July 2012). "Syrian regime makes chemical warfare threat". The Guardian.
- Staff al Arabiya with Reuters (3 December 2012). "Syrian FM spokesman Jihad Makdissi defects: diplomatic source". Al Arabiya News.
- "جهاد مقدسي: غادرت سوريا لأكون مع الحل السلمي". BBC Arabic (in Arabic). 13 February 2012.
- Evans, Michael; Haynes, Deborah; Frenkel, Sheera (3 December 2012). "Obama warns Syria as regime ‘prepares chemical weapons’". The Times. London. Archived from the original on 4 December 2012.
- Case, Roy (Reuters) (3 December 2012). "דיווחים: דובר משרד החוץ הסורי הודח ועזב לבריטניה (Reports: Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman dismissed and left for Britain)". Ynet (in Hebrew).
- Staff al Arabiya with AFP (11 December 2012). "Syrian foreign ministry spokesman ‘on leave:’ newspaper". Al Arabiya News.
- Martin Chulov (24 December 2012). "Senior Syrian official in USA". The Guardian.
- Gibor, Asi (30 January 2013). "דיווח: דובר משרד החוץ הסורי ערק" [Report: Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman defected] (in Hebrew).
- El-Hassan, Jana (13 February 2013). "Makdissi says ‘destructive’ division behind Syria departure". The Daily Star.
- "بعد صمت طويل.. جهاد مقدسي يكشف سر اختفائه" [After a long silence, Jihad Makdisi reveals the secret of his disappearance]. Al Arabiya (in Arabic). 13 February 2013.
- "In Syria, Former Official Says, ‘Nobody Is Winning’". New York Times. 18 January 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
- "جهاد مقدسي: نعم كنت جزءاً من ماكينة النظام الإعلامية، لقد غادرت واعتذرت". السوري الجديد. Retrieved 2016-02-14.
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