December 9, 2021

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On the Departure of Ambassador James F. Jeffrey

22 min read

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Ambassador James F. Jeffrey, who has served for almost two and a half years as the Special Representative for Syria Engagement and Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, will retire from his roles this month. In August 2018 Ambassador Jeffrey came out of retirement at my request to serve as my point person on Syria, and he assumed the additional role of Special Envoy in the global fight against ISIS in January 2019. He achieved remarkable results in each capacity, advancing our efforts toward a political resolution to the Syrian crisis and creating the conditions for an enduring defeat of ISIS.

Ambassador Jeffrey helped build and maintain an international coalition that greatly increased the economic and political pressure on the Assad regime. He led the way in implementing the Caesar Act and other Syria sanctions to deny the Syrian regime the resources it uses to wage war and commit mass atrocities against the Syrian people. He supported the efforts of Vice President Pence and myself to successfully negotiate a ceasefire between Turkey and the Syrian Democratic Forces in October 2019. Ambassador Jeffrey served with distinction as the Department’s lead in our efforts against ISIS, culminating in the territorial defeat of ISIS’s fraudulent “caliphate.”

Together, his Army and Foreign Service careers span 45 years of exceptional service. Indeed, Ambassador Jeffrey epitomizes the very best of our diplomatic corps. Jim is an American patriot of the highest order. He and his family have served and sacrificed on behalf of America and deserve our deepest appreciation. He is also a friend and I wish him all the best. I, like the State Department, am better because of Jim.

I have directed Joel D. Rayburn, currently Deputy Assistant Secretary and Special Envoy for Syria, to assume Ambassador Jeffrey’s Syria engagement responsibilities. I have designated Ambassador Nathan Sales, the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, as Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

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