February 9, 2010 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - Pending confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Robert Ford is slated to become ambassador to Syria, restoring diplomatic ties with the Bashar al-Assad led government broken in 2005 when Syria's involvement in the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri was strongly suspected.
Ford is considered by some [see, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE61258F20100203]d to be part of the "Arabist" contingent at State, a pejorative term meaning diplomats who some believe are pro-Arab [gone native] in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because the extensive experience they have in the Middle East has led them to a pro-Palestinian bias.
Ford has wide experience in the Middle East. A fluent Arab speaker, he has most recently served in Algeria with previous service in both Iraq and Lebanon.
He will come on station at a critical time, when Iran, Assad's prime benefactor, is coming under not only Western but Arab pressure because of its threatening nuclear stance.
"The two day visit by the king - his first since he took power in 2005 - will focus on unrest in Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories, where political rivals backed by the two countries are wrangling over power. The Saudi monarch and close US ally is also seeking to nudge Syrian President Bashar al-Assad out of Iran's diplomatic orbit toward closer cooperation with fellow Arab states." [source, http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2009/1007/p06s01-wome.html]
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