Afghan Biographies

Khalilzad, Zalmay Dr.

Name Khalilzad, Zalmay Dr.
Ethnic backgr. Pashtun
Date of birth 1951
Function/Grade ex US Special Envoy for Afghan Reconcilliation
History and Biodata

2. Previous Functions:
Assistant Professor of Political Science at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (1979-1989)
Special Advisor to the US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs (1985-1989)
US-Special Envoy to Afghanistan 2001-2003,
US-Ambassador to Afghanistan (  2003- 2005)
US-Ambassador to Iraq (20050621 -  2007)
US-Ambassador the the UN (2007 - 2008)
Counselor at the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS),
President of the Khalilzad Associates (2009)
US Special envoy  for Afghan Reconcilliation (2018, 2019, 2020, 20211018)

3. Biodata:
Khalilzad_ZalmayDr. Zalmay Mamozy Khalilzad was born 22 Mar 1951 in Mazar-i Sharif, Balkh Province. Khalilzad's father Khalilullah Khalilzad was a government official under the monarchy of Mohammed Zahir Shah and moved with his family to Mazar. He is an ethnic Pashtun. Khalilzad's parents hail from Laghman Province. His mother married very young and gave birth to 13 children. Only seven survived, including Zalmay. 
But his mother tongue is Dari. Khalilzad claims to be an ethnic Pashtun but its validity is seriously doubted; reason being that his name uses the Persian or Tajik suffix "zad" instead of the Pashtun varitan "zai". Also, there is great doubt of his ability in being able to speak Pashto, having never been heard or seen speaking the language

He also speaks English and Arabic. Khalilzad began his education at the public Ghazi Lycée school in Kabul. He first visited the United States as a 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. He is one of the "Beiruti Boys" (with Popal, Ahady and others) 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 an opponent to the disarmament treaties, who provided Zalmay with contacts in the government and with RAND.

1984 Khalilzad got US ctizenship and accepted a one-year Council on Foreign Relations fellowship to join the State Department, where he worked for Paul Wolfowitz, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. From 1985 to 1989, Khalilzad served in President Ronald Reagan's Administration as a senior State Department official advising on the Soviet war in Afghanistan and the Iran–Iraq War. During this time he was a member of the policy planning staff and the State Department's Special Advisor on Afghanistan to Undersecretary of State Michael H. Armacost. In this role he developed and guided the international program to promote the merits of a Mujahideen-led Afghanistan to oust the Soviet occupation. From 1990-1992, Khalilzad served under President George H. W. Bush in the Defense Department as Deputy Undersecretary for Policy Planning.

Between 1993 and 2000, Khalilzad was the Director of the Strategy, Doctrine, and Force Structure at the RAND Corporation. While at RAND, Khalilzad also had a brief stint consulting for Cambridge Energy Research Associates, which at the time was conducting a risk analysis for Unocal, now part of Chevron, for a proposed 1,400 km (890 mile), $2-billion, 622 m³/s (22,000 ft³/s) Trans-Afghanistan gas pipeline project which would have extended from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan and further proceeding to Pakistan.

In May 2010 he was made a member of the board of directors of RAK Petroleum, a UAE-based company with prominent Emirati and Saudi backing. On Thursday, Khalilzad was voted to a seat on the board of directors of Norwegian oil company DNO, one of the first firms to sign an oil contract in Iraq's Kurdish area, in 2004. (RAK owns 30 percent of DNO.)

The private investment firm of Zalmay Khalilzad, the former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and one of the most powerful diplomats in the George W. Bush Administration, is upset that a client has lost an oil deal in Balkh Province, Afghanistan. Khalilzad's son, Alexander Benard, is on the attack in Washington, in particular against the Pentagon, which he says acted against U.S. interests by not advising the Afghan government to favor Western companies in the deal.

Khalilzad's firm, Gryphon Capital Partners, represents U.K.-based Tethys Petroleum, which participated in a competitive tender for northern Afghanistan oilfields estimated to hold 80 million barrels of oil. This is not a lot of oil, but given global prices would still generate a good income flow at an estimated production rate of 11,000 barrels a day. In hiring Khalilzad Tethys was paying a native Afghan and one of the Bush Administration's most powerful diplomats -- he was ambassador not just to Afghanistan, but also to Iraq and the United Nations. Trading on his contacts, Khalilzad mounted an aggressive campaign on Tethys' behalf in both Washington and Kabul. Yet as of now, the tentative winner is China National Petroleum Corp.(20111006).

The deal is on track to be finalized by the middle of Oct. 2011. And Gryphon attributes this to a tender that it says unfairly favored CNPC, when it should have been engineered to the advantage of companies from the coalition partners who have fought in Afghanistan. Chinese State Oil Company, CNPC, has won the tender for the Kashkari, Bazarkhami and Zamarudsay blocks in Northern Afghanistan.(20111024).


Tethys Petroleum has appointed Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad to the board of directors. Khalilzad will also chair a new Strategic Risk Committee of the board.(20120718)

Zalmay Khalilzad, who served as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations under President George W. Bush, is being investigated by American authorities for suspected money laundering. Austrian State prosecutor Thomas Vecsey confirmed a report in the Austrian weekly Profil about the investigation of Khalilzad, who played a key role in the political transition in Afghanistan after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion and the fall of the Taliban. According to the magazine, the investigation centers on the alleged transfer of 1.15 million euros ($1.5 million) in May 2013 to an account in Vienna owned by Khalilzad's wife, Cheryl Benard. The money came from business activities in Iraq and the United Arab Emirates, it reported. Vecsey would not elaborate on the allegations, nor did the magazine's report. Profil said the case became public after a blogger found documents while rummaging through a garbage container used by the state prosecutor's office in Vienna. The magazine said several bank accounts owned by Benard were ordered frozen in February — a ruling that is under appeal. Benard's lawyer, Holger Bielesz, told Profil that U.S. authorities have yet to express "reasonable grounds for suspicions."(20140908) 

Zalmai Khalilzad who is facing money laundering allegations has said Austria has unfrozen the bank accounts of his wife. No charges have been brought anywhere in the world, including the United States and Austria, against Khalilzad or his wife.(20140911)

The former diplomat is president of Khalilzad Associates, an international business consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. Under its parent company Gryphon Investors, Khalilzad's firm is focused on business in Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to appoint Zalmay Khalilzad, an Afghan-born former U.S. ambassador to Kabul, as his special envoy on Afghanistan, media reported on August 22, 2018.

Khalilzad called for the selection of negotiating teams to enable talks between the militants and Kabul to start.(20181119)

A three-day meeting between the Taliban and the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan Khalilzad to pave the way for peace talks ended with no agreement, the militant group said a day after the diplomat declared a deadline of April 2019 to end a 17-year-long war.(20181119)

The United States and the Taliban signed a peace deal 20200229 in Sheraton Hotel, Doha, that calls for the full withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan within 14 months.

U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar inked the deal in a hall at a hotel in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attended the ceremony and witnessed the signing while seated across from the two men.

The deal contains secret annexes, according to three people familiar with details of the current draft. The first is an agreement for U.S. counterterrorism forces to stay in the country. The second is a Taliban denouncement of terrorism and violent extremism. The third annex contains a mechanism to monitor whether all sides are honoring the semi-truce while talks between warring Afghan parties proceed, according to two of the sources, and the last addresses how the CIA will operate in future in Taliban-controlled areas.(20200301)

On August 14, 2021 Blinken had called Ghani about the Afghan delegation that was sent to Qatar with a new deal that would eventually pave the way for government transfer to the Taliban. This was a balanced approach that could help the Ghani side have a fair share in the Taliban government,” a source revealed. “At this point it was revealed that Blinken would replace Zalmay Khalilzad with Salman Ahmed (a US Pakistani). But practically it didn’t work because on August 15 the Taliban were moving inside Kabul at gunpoint which left Ghani with no choice but to leave,” the source further said.

Ambassador Khalilzad actively manipulated Afghans, promising them, ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’. Indeed, at the end, the suffering people of Afghanistan have ended up with state and economic collapse, facing a catastrophic humanitarian crisis. One of the tragedies of this century!” says Haidari who is one of few vocal envoys of the erstwhile Afghan government.

Khalilzad's resignation and departure as the top U.S. envoy for Afghanistan was announced on Monday, Oct 18, 2021 less than two months after the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover of the country. "We are optimistic about moving forward with the new representative Tom West  and full implementation of Doha Agreement will normalize relations between both governments," Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi said in a tweet. (20211018)

Former intelligence chief Rahmatullah Nabil tweeted: “Finally, this con man was expelled from the scene after dragging Afghanistan into an irreversible catastrophe!” Former Afghan foreign minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta said Khalilzad played a destructive role in Afghanistan. “Khalilzad completed his destructive role in a shameful process. In this process, he had the support of some naive politicians and chauvinist circles,” he tweeted.(20211019)

Khalilzad is married to Cheryl Benard an US-Amercian-Austrian lady. He and his wife have two children, Alexander (Benard) and Maximilian. Alexander Benard is managing director of Gryphon Partners, an advisory and investment firm that ‘assists clients in markets’ in the Middle East and Central Asia (including mineral exploration) founded by his father, Zalmay Khalilzad.(20111004)

Last Modified 2021-10-19
Established 2009-10-09