Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad was appointed as the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation on September 21, 2018. Previously, Ambassador Khalilzad served as U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 2007-2009, Ambassador to Iraq 2005-2007, and Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005.
Prior to that, Ambassador Khalilzad served as Special Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan, and Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Southwest Asia, Near East, and North African Affairs at the National Security Council. He also has been a Special Presidential Envoy and Ambassador at Large for the Free Iraqis. Ambassador Khalilzad headed the Bush-Cheney transition team for the Department of Defense.
Between 1993 and 1999, Ambassador Khalilzad was Director of the Strategy, Doctrine, and Force Structure program for RAND’s Project Air Force. While with RAND, he founded the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Between 1991 and 1992, Ambassador Khalilzad served as Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning. He also served as a senior political scientist at RAND and associate professor at the University of California at San Diego in 1989 and 1991. From 1985 to 1989 at the Department of State, Ambassador Khalilzad was a member of the Policy Planning Staff and served as Special Advisor to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, advising on the Iran-Iraq war and the Soviet War in Afghanistan. From 1979 to 1986, Ambassador Khalilzad was an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Columbia University.
Ambassador Khalilzad previously sat on the boards of the National Endowment for Democracy, America Abroad Media, the Center for the National Interest, the RAND Corporation’s Middle East Studies Center, the Atlantic Council, the American University of Kurdistan, and the American University of Afghanistan. He was also a counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the editorial board of the National Interest magazine.
Ambassador Khalilzad received his bachelor’s and master’s degree from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. He went on to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.