Ambassador James F. Jeffrey is currently the Chair of the Middle East Program at the Wilson Center. He retired from the Foreign Service with the rank of Career Ambassador in June, 2012. He was recalled to the Foreign Service in 2018 to serve as the State Department’s Special Representative for Syria, and in 2019 to serve concurrently as the Special Envoy to the Coalition to Defeat ISIS. He retired from those positions in November, 2020. Between 2012-2018 he was the Philip Solondz Distinguished Visiting Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a Visiting Instructor at George Washington University, energy consultant, and member of the Secretary of Defense’s Defense Policy Board and the CIA Director’s External Advisory Board.
Ambassador Jeffrey has held a series of senior posts in Washington, D.C., and abroad. Prior to his service as Ambassador in Ankara, 2008-2010, and Baghdad 2010-2012, he served as Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor in the George W, Bush Administration. Previously he served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the Department of State. Earlier appointments included service as Senior Advisor on Iraq to the Secretary of State; Chargé d’affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission in Baghdad; Ambassador to Albania, Deputy Chief of Mission in Ankara and Kuwait; and Deputy Coordinator for Bosnia.
A former infantry officer in the U.S. Army, Ambassador Jeffrey served in Germany and Vietnam from 1969 to 1976. His wife Gudrun and he have two children, Julia, and Jahn.