Francis J. Ricciardone is an Atlantic Council Vice President and the Director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. Before joining the Council, he was a career Foreign Service Officer in Washington, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, including assignments as Ambassador to Turkey (2011-14), Charg d’Affaires and Deputy Ambassador to Afghanistan (2009-10), Ambassador to Egypt (2005-8), and Ambassador to the Philippines and Palau (2002-5).
As Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s Special Coordinator for the Transition of Iraq (1999-2001), Ambassador Ricciardone supported the reestablishment of the democratic opposition to the Saddam Hussein regime. Secretary of State Colin Powell assigned him in 2004 to organize the new US Embassy in Baghdad to replace the Coalition Provisional Authority.
He worked with Egyptian, Israeli, and other international military forces as Chief of the Civilian Observer Unit of the Multinational Force and Observers in Egypt’s Sinai Desert (1989-91). In 1993, he served as Political Adviser to US and Turkish generals commanding Operation Northern Watch in northern Iraq, based in Turkey.
Before joining the Foreign Service, Ambassador Ricciardone held a Fulbright Scholarship in Italy, and taught at international schools in Italy and in Iran. He graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College in 1973.
He speaks Italian, Turkish, Arabic, and French. He is married to Dr. Marie Ricciardone, a molecular biologist.