Muscat: Students in Oman would benefit from embarking on a career in diplomacy, according to Marc J. Sievers, the current ambassador of the United States to Oman.
Having served his country since 1981 in several postings across the Arab world and in the United States, Sievers has been ambassador to the Sultanate since January 2016, and has plenty of experiences to pass on to the next generation.
“I know it is a little bit early for a lot of you here to be thinking about what you want to do in the future, but diplomacy is definitely a career for you all to consider,” said Sievers, who was speaking to students and parents at [email protected], Oman’s first ever TEDx youth forum.
“I think it’s a great career, particularly if you enjoy living overseas, engaging with people from other countries and cultures, learning foreign languages and representing your countries.”
“Most of my career has been spent engaging with societies, to explain and defend our policies where appropriate,” he added.
“I have found my work both intellectually stimulating and personally satisfying, but this is by no means a one-man show; we are a team, and I will always acknowledge the leadership examples set by other career ambassadors that I served under. Diplomacy today is changing: much of today’s diplomacy is done with civil societies, business communities, and academic and religious institutions.”
Having helped oversee the rebuilding of Iraq during its most critical period, Sievers was uniquely positioned to share some insight into that period of his life.
“In 2004, I volunteered to work with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, which was established by the coalition that overthrew Saddam Hussein, and our government was to set up and stabilise the new Iraqi government that would emerge from the post-war situation,” he recalled.
Iraqis gain control
“I was a senior advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and we had a series of temporary Iraqi governments that were gradually granted more powers. I helped the Iraqis gain control of their embassies abroad and to supervise the new teams of ambassadors, and I worked with them and other Arab, European and Asian states to recognise and accredit the new Iraqi diplomats.”
“My partners in this were a team of diplomats at the Iraqi foreign ministry, and I worked very closely with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, a wonderful Kurdish freedom fighter named Hoshyar Zebari, who went on to be Foreign Minister of Iraq and then Finance Minister for a number of years, and I hope he is well today,” he added.
Deputy foreign minister
“But my closest partner was Bassam Kubba, who was Deputy Foreign Minister in the interim government. Sadly, Bassam was assassinated on June 13, 2004, after returning from New York, where he had successfully lobbied the United Nations Security Council to recognise the transition from the CPA to the new Iraqi government. I still think often of Bassam, and I would like to dedicate my remarks this evening to him. He was quite a remarkable gentleman who’d served as a professional diplomat, and quickly recognised the opportunities in a new Iraq and how he could help it take its place in the world.”
Sievers was also quick to praise His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said and the path of peace that he has placed the Sultanate on.
“It’s been my great honour to represent my country here for the last year and nine months or so and I am very proud to have presented my credentials to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos,” he said.
“This is wonderful place for a diplomat to work.”