Mohammed Alaa Ghanem

Syrian writer, pro-democracy campaigner, and human rights activist

Mohammed Alaa Ghanem is a Syrian writer, pro-democracy campaigner, and human rights activist. Having previously served as Assistant Professor of Translation at Damascus University, Syria, as Preceptor at the Syrian Virtual University, and as Senior Political Adviser and Director of Government Relations at the Syrian American Council in Washington D.C., his career has been at the intersection of advocacy, diplomacy, and academic teaching. He has been involved in the Syrian pro-democracy struggle since its early days in 2011 when he served as a Non-Violent Resistance (NVR) strategist to the Syrian Peaceful Protest Movement. At the Syrian American Council in Washington D.C., his scholarship and frequent shuttling between the United States and the Middle East through late 2017, helped to connect U.S. policy-makers, American news media, and the Syrian-American community, with the pro-democracy Movement inside Syria, and the Movement with policy circles in Washington and beyond. Utilizing his extensive network of contacts, he frequently traveled to the opposition-held parts of Syria to conduct a wide range of activities in support of nascent governance efforts, in the process advising civil society groups and emergent Local Administrative Councils (LACs) on good governance, rule of law, and foreign affairs, and assisting with elections planning and monitoring. In 2013, he participated in monitoring the elections of the Provincial Council of Aleppo, then Aleppo’s first democratically elected government since 1963. He also organized the largest-scale conference held for Local Councils in Syria. The Conference in Gaziantep was attended by LAC representatives from across Syria, the US State Department, US Congressional Representatives, representatives from European donor countries, and Syrian diaspora leaders. As a Fellow with the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies, he participated in crafting the ‘Syria Transition Roadmap,’ a detailed 238-page vision of the steps that a Syrian transitional government would have to take to restore order and rule of law, build democratic institutions, and place Syrian society on a path toward national reconciliation. He was also one of the main organizers of celebrated regime defector ‘Caesar’s,’ trip to Washington D.C. The former military police photographer smuggled out 55,000 graphic photos taken by himself and other photographers of over 11,000 people tortured to death in the Syrian regime’s military prisons. Ghanem is also an Atlantic Council Millennium Fellow. He routinely participates in international, political, and academic conferences on Syria, and his writings have appeared, among others, in The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN Opinion, and Fox News Opinion. His research papers have been published by Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Chatham House, and the Atlantic Council, and he has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, RT, and CCTV America. A Fulbright alumnus, he holds a Master of Arts in Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation. He is currently pursuing graduate studies in international relations at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.