Zalmay Mamozy Khalilzad (Nastaliq: زلمی خلیلزاد - Zalmay Khalīlzād) (born: 22 March 1951) is a counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and president of Khalilzad Associates, an international business consulting firm based in Washington, DC. He was the United States Ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush. He has been involved with U.S. policy makers at the White House, State Department and Pentagon since the mid-1980s, and was the highest-ranking Muslim American in the Administration of U.S. President George W. Bush. Zalmay Khalilzad's previous assignments in the Administration include U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq and United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
Zalmay Khalilzad was born on 22 Mrach 1951 in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan. His father Khalilullah was a Sunni Pashtun and his mother Zahra a Persian Shia.
Khalilzad's parents hail from Laghman Province of Afghanistan, and the family moved to Mazar-i-Sharif when his father was a government official under the monarchy of Mohammed Zahir Shah. Khalilzad describes himself as an ethnic Pashtun, and is fluent in English, Pashto, Dari (Persian) and Arabic languages. Khalilzad began his education at the public Ghazi Lycée school in Kabul. He first spent time in the United States as a Ceres, California high school exchange student with AFS Intercultural Programs. Later, he attained his bachelor's and master's degrees from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. Khalilzad received his Ph.D at the University of Chicago, where he studied closely with strategic thinker Albert Wohlstetter, a prominent nuclear deterrence thinker and strategist, who provided Zalmay with contacts in the government and with RAND.
Khalilzad is married to author and political analyst Cheryl Benard, whom he met in 1972 when they were both students at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon.
They have two children, Alexander and Maximilian.
Presently, Khalilzad serves as the President of Khalilzad Associates, LLC an "international advisory firm that serves clients at the nexus of commerce and public policies, helping global businesses navigate the most promising and challenging international markets." Zalmay Khalilzad Associates and its parent company Gryphon Capital Partners counts among its clients international and US companies, which are primarily interested in doing business in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to Khalilzad, these include companies in the sectors of energy, construction, education, and infrastructure. He also currently serves as a Counselor at the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS) and sits on the Boards of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), America Abroad Media (AAM), the RAND Corporation's Middle East Studies Center, the American University of Iraq in Suleymania (AUIS), and the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF).
U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan
In 2001, President George W. Bush asked Khalilzad to head the Bush-Cheney transition team for the Department of Defense and Khalilzad briefly served as Counselor to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, President Bush came to rely on Khalilzad's Afghanistan expertise.
Khalilzad was involved in the early stages of planning to overthrow the Taliban and on December 31, 2001 was selected as Bush's Special Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan. He served in that position until November 2003, when he was appointed to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan. During 2004 and 2005 he was also involved in helping with the establishment of the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF), which is the first American-style higher learning educational institution in Afghanistan.
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq
Khalilzad began his job as U.S. Ambassador to Iraq on June 21, 2005.
He was credited for helping negotiate compromises which allowed the ratification of Iraq's Constitution in October 2005. Khalilzad also worked to ensure that the December 2005 elections ran smoothly and played a substantial role in forming the first post-Saddam government. Khalilzad also helped establish the American University of Iraq in Sulaimaniya and sits on its board of regents. Khalilzad's term as Ambassador to Iraq ended on March 26, 2007. He was replaced by Ryan Crocker, a career diplomat who was serving as Ambassador to Pakistan previously.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
On 12 February 2007, the White House submitted Khalilzad's nomination to the Senate to become U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. In November 2007, Khalilzad charged that Iran is helping the insurgent groups in Afghanistan and Iraq. Khalilzad, along with most U.S. politicians, supported Kosovo's independence. In August 2008, he urged the UN Security Council to "take urgent action" and "condemn Russia's military assault on the sovereign state of Georgia," in addition to stating that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had told Secretary of State Rice that Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili "must go."