Ex-US envoy criticizes Obama policy on Syria

Ex-US envoy criticizes Obama policy on Syria
Thu Jun 5, 2014 14:04:00

Former US ambassador to Syria Robert Ford has said he resigned from his post because he could no longer defend the Obama administration’s Syria policy.

In an interview on CNN’s "Amanpour" show on Tuesday, he said the administration's policy failed to address the root causes of the conflict in Syria.

Ford, who was instrumental in working with the Syrian opposition and getting them to agree to peace talks, stepped down from his post in March. Tuesday marked the first time Ford stated publicly why he resigned. He is also the first US official who worked on the Syrian conflict to call out the Obama administration publicly for not doing enough to resolve the conflict.

“I was no longer in a position where I felt I could defend the American policy,” he said. “We have been unable to address either the root causes of the conflict in terms of the fighting on the ground and the balance on the ground, and we have a growing extremism threat.”

Ford said the Obama administration’s policy on Syria is ineffective at resolving any part of the Syrian conflict.

“There really is nothing we can point to that’s been very successful in our policy except the removal of about 93 percent of some of chemical materials," Ford said.

Ford said the White House should be more proactive in helping the (unknown) moderate opposition fight the Syrian army forces.

“The United States and our friends, we have tools that could put greater pressure on Bashar al-Assad,” Ford claimed. “Especially as the extremist threat to the United States and to our friends emanating out of Syria grows, I think we really must consider carefully whether or not we are doing all we can to help our friends in Syria.”

The commonly held view in the US is that ramping up support for the opposition is risky because no one knows which groups are affiliated with the opposition. Members of Congress and Secretary of State John Kerry have said Washington needs to wait to arm the militants with more sophisticated weaponry, such as anti-aircraft missiles, until it can ensure such hardware won't fall into the hands of extremists. The main reason was the general concerns over challenging US interests in Middle East by initially structured terrorist groups by US own support within first stages of war. But Ford said those claims are no longer valid.

“We've identified them quite well now," he claimed. "Some people say, well, we don't know them well enough; we can't depend on them. We know them quite well. We've worked with them for years.”

It is not clear who will replace Ford, and US officials have not said when they will name a new ambassador to Syria.

According to civil rights activists, the Barack Obama administration’s foreign policy in Syria has thrown the Arab nation into a disaster, plunging the country into one of the greatest humanitarian catastrophes of modern times.

Justice demands that the US government allow the Syrian people, free from outside interference, to determine their own destiny. Washington does not want to accept this because it wants to only have puppet and proxy governments in the resource rich region of the Middle East, the activists said.


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