Tunisia’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Mohamed Ezzine Chelaifa?

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Mohamed Ezzine Chelaifa presented his credentials as Tunisia’s ambassador to the United States to President Barack Obama on March 10, 2014. It’s the fourth ambassadorial posting for Chelaifa and he’s the third person in the post in four years.


Chelaifa, 58, was born in the coastal town of Mahdia, Tunisia. He attended Aix-Marseille University, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science, a master’s in international relations and a Ph.D. in economic science.


Chelaifa joined Tunisia’s ministry of foreign affairs in 1983. From 1985 to 1992, he was stationed at the embassy in Madrid, where his two sons were born. Chelaifa’s first posting to Washington came in 1996, when he was named deputy chief of mission, remaining in that job until 1999.


In 2000, Chelaifa was named Tunisia’s ambassador to South Africa. Later, he returned to Tunis to serve in the foreign ministry. By 2007, Chelaifa was the ministry’s director general for American and Asian affairs.


Chelaifa was sent to Australia in 2010 to become his country’s first ambassador to that country. He was there only a short time before returning to Madrid as ambassador to Spain in 2011, a position he held until coming to Washington.


Chelaifa will probably serve only a short time in the United States as he was just more than a year from retirement age upon assuming the post in Washington. While in the U.S., he plans to lobby U.S. officials about instituting a free trade agreement between Tunisia and the United States.


Chelaifa speaks English, French and Spanish, as well as his native Arabic. He and his wife, Laila, have two sons.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Interview: Tunisia’s Ambassador to the United States (by Zied Mhirsi, Tunisia Live)


Leave a comment