Obama Nominates Syria Envoy


Published February 17, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

President Obama nominated an ambassador to Syria, saying his aim is to “enhance relations”.

The nomination Tuesday afternoon of Robert Stephen Ford, currently the deputy ambassador to Iraq, comes on the eve of a visit to Damascus by William Burns, an undersecretary of state and the most senior Obama administration official to visit Syria.

President George W. Bush withdrew the U.S. ambassador to Syria in early 2005, after Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister and democratic reformer, was assassinated. Syria was widely blamed for the murder.

Until this nomination, Obama had extended Bush administration sanctions and snubs aimed at getting Syria to stop meddling in Lebanon and Iraq, to end its backing for anti-Israel terrors groups and to end its weapons of mass destruction programs. Just last week, the White House denied that it had “formally” nominated an ambassador.

Obama has coupled continued sanctions on Syria with a policy of outreach, partly in hopes of bringing Israel and Syria back to peace negotiations.

“His appointment represents President Obama’s commitment to use engagement to advance U.S. interests by improving communication with the Syrian government and people,” said a White House statement separate from the routine notification of nomination. “If confirmed by the Senate, Ambassador Ford will engage the Syrian government on how we can enhance relations, while addressing areas of ongoing concern.”

Reports of Ford’s possible nomination have been circulating for weeks; officials in Damascus have told media that they approved the pick.

Find us on Facebook!
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.