William V. Roebuck
Ambassador William V. Roebuck retired from the Foreign Service in December 2020, after a 28-year diplomatic career, and is currently serving as the Executive Vice President of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. In his final State Department assignment, 2018-20, he served initially as Senior Advisor, before eventually taking on the role of Deputy Special Envoy, for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. For much of that period, Roebuck was embedded with U.S. Special Forces, serving as the senior (and sometimes only) U.S. diplomat on the ground in northeastern Syria, receiving a Distinguished Honor Award for this work.
Roebuck served as Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain from 2015-17. He was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Maghreb Affairs in January 2013, assuming additional responsibility for Egyptian Affairs in January 2014. Roebuck served as Chargé d’Affaires in Tripoli from January to June 2013, earning the Ryan C. Crocker Award for Outstanding Leadership in Expeditionary Diplomacy. From September 2010 to December 2012, he served as Director for the Office of Maghreb Affairs in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs during a period when the U.S. was struggling to cope with momentous political change in the region associated with the Arab Spring.
His other previous assignments include Deputy Political Counselor in Baghdad (2009-10), where he led the Embassy’s effort to support and monitor the 2010 Iraqi national elections; Deputy Office Director for Arabian Peninsula Affairs (2007-09); Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus (2004-07, serving as the acting Deputy Chief of Mission for the final year of that assignment); and Gaza Political Officer (2000-03, while assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv). He served in Washington as staff assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs from 1997-98, after initial overseas tours in Jerusalem and Kingston.
Prior to joining the State Department, Roebuck worked as an English teacher and school administrator at a Saudi military school in Taif, from 1982-87. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Côte d’Ivoire from 1978-81. His languages are French and Arabic.
Roebuck received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English literature from Wake Forest University in 1978 and 1981, respectively, and his law degree from the University of Georgia in 1992. Among other publications, his work has appeared in the Chicago Quarterly Review and The Foreign Service Journal, most recently “Raqqa’s Inferno: A Diplomat Reads Dante in Syria,” in the May 2021 issue. He was a finalist for the Missouri Review’s 2020 Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize for non-fiction.