Mounir Ibrahim is a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State. Mounir acted as the State Department’s primary liaison with the Syrian opposition, civil society, and religious leaders for nearly three years.
Beginning in August 2010 in Damascus, he closely followed human rights, social and religious freedom issues while developing a wide and unique network throughout the country. Throughout the first six months of the Syrian revolution, Mounir observed tens of protests throughout the country and provided critical and first-hand accounts of events in Syria. Following his return to Washington and the suspension of Embassy operations, Mounir leveraged social media networks to maintain and expand the State Department’s outreach with Syrian society. As a result of his use of social media, technology has been further integrated into the State Department’s outreach to inaccessible populations.
Prior to joining the Department of State, Mounir was an Associate Director at Kreab Gavin Anderson in New York, NY. Mounir received an MA from Columbia University in International Affairs and a BA from American University.
Describe the impact on foreign policy you have made in your current/past positions.
I had the opportunity to follow and work with the Syrian opposition, civil society, and religious leaders for nearly three years. Following the suspension of U.S. Embassy operations, I was able to maintain the United States Department of State’s connections to the grassroots levels of Syrian society via social media networks.
If I was able to make any impact on foreign policy, it was due to the foresight of Ambassador Robert Ford as he understood the importance of maintaining the State Department’s connections to the Syrian street and empowering my work. As a result, our communication with local councils, civil society, and religious leaders throughout the country was constantly factored into the U.S. government’s foreign policy towards Syria.
What personal contribution to foreign policy are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the work and firsthand accounts my colleague and I were able to produce during the first months of the revolution in Syria. The first protests in Syria were small and not covered by most media networks, but the regime’s violence against peaceful protesters was unimaginable. I am proud that I observed these protests and was able to witness the bravery and peaceful nature that began the Syrian revolution, a fact that is rarely mentioned by most media nowadays.
What is your vision of foreign policy in the 21st Century?
Social media has undoubtedly impacted the political trajectory and development of the modern day nation-state. The effects of social media have been evident in the Middle East, where people have risen up and are increasingly reliant on technology for their political activism. The future of foreign policy will surely involve a virtual and social media element. Virtual technology is already used for messaging, however, the potential for organizing, education, and promotion of transparency is great.
What challenges need to be overcome to create better foreign policy? What leadership traits are needed for this?
The biggest challenge to creating a better foreign policy is the size of our bureaucracy. I personally believe that reducing the time it takes to make decisions, take stances on issues, or deliver assistance greatly improves our foreign policy. We will need people who believe in streamlining our decision making process and empowering those beneath them to act.
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