President Barack Obama meets with U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford in the Oval Office, Aug. 1, 2011. (White House Photo by Pete Souza)
New Yorker: Former Ambassador Robert Ford On The State department Mutiny On Syria
The Obama Administration has long been divided over what to do about Syria. The crisis produced one of the biggest differences between President Obama and Hillary Clinton, his first Secretary of State. The policy chasm has only deepened during the five years of conflict, which has now reportedly claimed almost half a million lives. The State Department acknowledged tersely on Friday that more than fifty American diplomats had recently submitted a letter of complaint about U.S. policy in Syria through its Dissent Channel, a sort of complaint box through which employees can voice their disagreement with official policy without fear of reprisal. Travelling in Europe, Secretary John Kerry told reporters, “I think it’s an important statement and I respect the process very, very much, and I will probably meet with people or have a chance to talk when we get back.”
Robert Ford was the last American ambassador to serve in war-torn Syria. After the uprising erupted, in 2011, Ford dared to visit opposition areas, meet with demonstrators, and pay a condolence call on the family of a slain activist. Ford was pulled out of Damascus over security concerns after the civil war broke out later that year. The State Department charged the regime of President Bashar al-Assad with incitement against Ford. In June, 2012, the Geneva I Conference on Syria agreed on the need for a transition government, including the government and opposition. Among the participants were Secretary of State Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. But in 2014, the Syrian civil war became even more complex with the emergence of the Islamic State, an extremist movement that has since seized a large chunk of northern Syria, including Raqqa, the capital of its caliphate, as well as Deir ez-Zor, Syria’s seventh-largest city, and other strategic areas.
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WNU Editor: Some in the comment thread of this blog have mentioned that this has more to do with them showing support for Hillary Clinton than for changing U.S. policy. Considering the timing of the letter (right after Hillary Clinton has clinched the nomination) .... and the intensity of the election campaign .... they are probably right.