Nawaf al-Fares

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Nawaf al-Fares
Syrian Ambassador to Iraq
In office
September 2008 – July 2012
Preceded byPost reestablished
Succeeded bySattam Jadaan Al-Dandah[1]
Personal details
Nawaf al-Fares

Abu Kamal, Syria
OccupationDefector, Policeman, Governor, Diplomat

Nawaf al-Fares (Arabic: نواف الفارس‎) is the former Syrian ambassador to Iraq who defected from the ruling government led by Bashar al-Assad on 11 July 2012 during the Syrian uprising.[2][3]


Fares was a veteran of Assad's rule and held senior positions as a leading member of Syria's diplomatic corps under the late president Hafez Assad.[2] He served as high-ranking official of the Syrian Regional Branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party in Deir al Zour province.[4] Additionally, Fares held senior security posts in Syria.[5] He is also a former provincial governor.[6] He served as the governor of three significant governorates, Latakia Governorate (until 2000),[7] Idlib Governorate (appointed in 2000)[7] and Quneitra Governorate.[8]

He was the first Syrian ambassador to Baghdad after thirty years.[9] His term as ambassador to Iraq began on 16 September 2008.[4][10] He resigned both from the Ba'ath Party and as Syria's ambassador to Iraq on 11 July 2012.[4]


Al Jazeera reported on 11 July 2012 that Fares had defected from the Syrian government. His defection was considered to be a significant event in regard to the future of the Syrian uprising.[11] On the same day, Fares posted a video statement on Facebook, arguing that Syrian government forces were killing civilians and that he had joined the ranks of the revolution of the Syrian people. He further called for the members of the Syrian military to join this revolution and to save the country and the citizens.[12] On 12 July 2012, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari told reporters in Paris that Nawaf al Fares is in Qatar.[13]

The Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry in Damascus issued a statement on 12 July 2012 dismissing Fares. The declaration stated that Fares "has been relieved of his duties" and "no longer has any link with the Syrian Embassy in Baghdad."[3] It is further stated by the Ministry that he should be punished due to "legal and disciplinary accountability."[14]

In his 15 July 2012 CNN interview, Fares said that he had tried to convince the Syrian government to change its approach towards the people and that foreign military intervention was needed to end the chaos in Syria.[15] In a BBC interview, Fares warned that the Syrian government would be likely to use chemical weapons against rebels, and raised the possibility that they may have already done so.[16]

Personal life[edit]

Fares is a Sunni Muslim[2] from Abu Kamal, near Deir al Zor, an eastern Syrian city.[9] His family is reported to partly be rooted in the Sunni tribe of Iraq’s Anbar Province, which extends to Syria’s eastern desert.[3] Fares is reported to be the leader of a powerful clan, Al Jarrah, in the Abu Kamal area, adjacent to Iraq.[8] Al Jarrah, is a branch of the Al Uqaydat tribal confederation, the largest in eastern Syria.[8] The clan has nearly 1.5 million members across 40% of Syria.[17] It also has kinship relations to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.[17] It was powerful and prominent due to its legacy of fighting against the French forces in the 1940s, and Fares' career with the Ba'athist government.[8]


  1. ^ "Assad Replaces Envoy to Iraq Who Defected". Naharnet. 9 October 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Karouny, Mariam (11 July 2012). "Assad loses envoy in first diplomatic defection". Reuters. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  3. ^ a b c Rick Gladstone; J. David Goodman (12 July 2012). "Syria Says Defecting Ambassador Is Fired". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  4. ^ a b c "Syria crisis: Deserter Manaf Tlas 'in touch with opposition'". BBC. 12 July 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  5. ^ Ketz, Sammy (12 July 2012). "Nawaf Fares: defected Syrian raises suspicion". AFP. Retrieved 12 July 2012.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Syrian ambassador to Iraq defects to opposition". BBC News. 12 July 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  7. ^ a b "Intelligence Briefs: Syria". Middle East Intelligence Bulletin. 2 (10). November 2000. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  8. ^ a b c d Hassan, Hassan (16 June 2012). "A Damascus loyalist defects as violence affects the tribes". The National. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
  9. ^ a b Chulov, Martin (11 July 2012). "Syria's ambassador to Iraq has defected, says opposition". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  10. ^ "Report: Syria ambassador in Baghdad defects, joins rebel forces". Haaretz. 11 July 2012. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  11. ^ "Syria defections raise pressure on Assad". Al Jazeera. 12 July 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  12. ^ "Top Syrian envoy urges revolt". Gulf News. Reuters. 13 July 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  13. ^ Irish, John (12 July 2012). "Defecting Syrian envoy now in Qatar-Iraqi minister". Reuters. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  14. ^ "Defected Syria envoy: Only force can topple Assad". CBS. 12 July 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  15. ^ Ivan Watson; Samya Ayish (15 July 2012). "Ex-Syrian ambassador calls for foreign military intervention". CNN. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  16. ^ "Syria: Assad regime 'ready to use chemical weapons'". BBC News. 16 July 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
  17. ^ a b Hassan, Hassan (25 July 2012). "Why tribes matter in Syria". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 July 2012.