There is reason to remain skeptical of the Obama administration’s decision to send its ambassador, Robert Ford, back to Damascus even after calling on Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, to step down. Among other things, you could argue that it is a tacit endorsement of the regime (ambassadors are envoys to governments, not countries); moreover, after Syria cracked down hard on the restive city of Hama, which Ford had heroically visited in June, that was more or less a direct f-you to us, and this is not how you respond to a direct f-you.
But there is no doubting Robert Ford himself. Today, he posted another note on the U.S. Embassy Damascus Facebook page responding to the pro-regime line that the civilians that the military is killing, arresting, and disappearing are terrorists—a loaded issue, given that the famous 1982 crackdown on Hama by Assad’s father was done in the name of quashing Islamism, and indeed there is no doubt that many of today’s protesters share those leanings. But Ford will have none of the Syrian government’s slander. “Peaceful protesters are not ‘terrorists,’ and after all the evidence accumulated over the past six months, no one except the Syrian government and its supporters believes that the peaceful protesters here are,” he writes. “The United Nations, which was finally allowed to send an assessment team here, instead has directly assigned responsibility for the violence in Syria to the Syrian government. The Arab League has assigned responsibility for the violence to the Syrian government. The European Union and its member states have done so. The governments of Canada, Japan, and Saudi Arabia have done so. The Turkish government has done so. Don’t like or trust the United States—fine—look at what other organizations and countries are saying.”
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