Basma Qodmani is an academic and was a member of the National Bloc faction of the Syrian National Council until the bloc split in June 2012.
Qodmani was a key participant in the meetings of Syrian opposition figures and groups during the summer of 2011 that led to the formation of the Syrian National Council in October. She was elected to the council’s Executive Committee, serving as its official spokesperson. On August 28, 2012, however, she resigned from the Syrian National Council, accusing it of losing credibility and failing to fulfill its mission. Although she has not been a member of any formal grouping since then, she has continued to play an active role in the opposition. This includes working with Riad Seif to develop the Syrian National Initiative, which he launched publicly on November 1, 2012. Qodmani has not resumed a high public profile because she is focusing her efforts, within the initiative, on capacity-building for the provisional government it envisages.
Qodmani has long experience as an academic and practitioner in Middle East research and development, based mostly in France. She is the executive director of the Arab Reform Initiative, a consortium of Arab policy research institutes working on reform and democratic transition in the Arab world, which she helped to establish in 2005. Prior to that, she held various advisory, research, and management positions at the National Council for Scientific Research (France), the Center for International Studies and Research at Sciences Po (Paris), the Ford Foundation office for the Middle East and North Africa (Cairo), and the French Institute of International Relations (Paris).
Born in Damascus in 1958, Qodmani and her family left Syria after her father, who worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was imprisoned. She grew up in Lebanon and the United Kingdom and then moved on to study in Paris, where she obtained her doctorate in political science from Sciences Po and later became an associate professor of international relations at the University of Paris. She has authored books and articles on conflicts in the Middle East, the Palestinian diaspora, regional security, political developments in Arab societies, and the relationship between religion and politics in the Muslim world.