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In Syria, Mobs Threaten U.S., French Embassies

Could violence, provoked by ambassador’s show of solidarity, lead to Western action?

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Outside the French embassy in Damascus today.(Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images)

Crowds supporting President Bashar Assad attempted to storm the U.S. and French embassies in Damascus today, with at the least the tacit support of the regime, in apparent outrage at the U.S. and French ambassadors’ outspokenness against the violent suppression of protesters and dissenters, particularly in the city of Hama. Last Friday, U.S. ambassador Robert Ford—whom President Obama controversially appointed last year as the first envoy to Syria in several years—visited Hama, a longtime weak spot of Syria’s Alawite ruling family and a particular stronghold of protest over the past few months in support of the protesters. And yesterday, Ford posted a short missive on his Facebook page chastising, even mocking the regime. “As I have said before, we respect the right of all Syrians—and people in all countries—to express their opinions freely and in a climate of mutual respect,” he wrote. “We wish the Syrian government would do the same—and stop beating and shooting peaceful demonstrators. … how ironic that the Syrian Government lets an anti-U.S. demonstration proceed freely while their security thugs beat down olive branch-carrying peaceful protesters elsewhere.”

Meanwhile, back in the United States, the State Department summoned Syria’s ambassador over reports that Syria’s embassy was monitoring and intimidating peaceful anti-regime protesters here.

For months, masses of Syrians have protested peacefully against their dictatorship, for which they have been killed, beaten, and arrested en masse, and have received no meaningful concessions or dialogue from the regime. It has been puzzling to many observers why the West, including the U.S., got so agitated over the fairly similar actions of the Libya regime—so agitated, in fact, that a coalition is now engaged in military action there with the possible goal of regime change—while many of these same countries have barely spoken out against the Assad regime’s abuses, much less threatened or taken military action. Harassing Western protesters and allowing Western embassies to be stormed is exactly what the Assad regime should be doing if it wants to force these Western countries to wake up to its crimes.

And where does Iran stand? Take a guess.

French and U.S. Syrian Embassies Attacked [FT]
A Note from Ambassador Robert Ford [Facebook]
State Department Calls in Syrian Envoy for Harassing Protesters [JTA]
Iran Condemns U.S. Meddling in Syria [Fars]
Related: Shadow Play [Tablet Magazine]
Syrian Protest Seen Bolstered By U.S. Visit [WSJ]

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In Syria, Mobs Threaten U.S., French Embassies

Could violence, provoked by ambassador’s show of solidarity, lead to Western action?

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