The Envoy

Confirmed: U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford

The Envoy

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Amb. Robert Ford in Syria (Facebook)

The Senate on Monday confirmed Robert Ford as U.S. ambassador to Syria.

He was confirmed in a unanimous consent motion, during the Senate's Monday executive session.

Ford was among a group of ambassadors whom President Obama appointed to their posts last December via recess appointments, since their nominations ran into GOP resistance in the Senate.

But conservatives who had previously objected to putting an envoy in Damascus have since revised their views, based in part on Ford's extensive outreach efforts to Syrian pro-democracy demonstrators.

Last week, on one such visit to a well known Syrian opposition politician, Ford was confronted by a violent pro-regime mob.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.)--who has previously sought to engage Syrian president Bashar al-Assad--praised Ford's courageous work in the face of assaults from what Kerry notably called the Assad "regime's goons."

Ford's "presence in Damascus applies far more pressure than his symbolic withdrawal would have because Robert embodies American solidarity with the Syrian people," Kerry said in a statement Tuesday hailing Ford's belated confirmation. "Despite even being physically attacked and assaulted by the regime's goons, Ford continues courageously to visit cities under military siege and speak truth to power."

But Kerry warned, "More difficult days lie ahead." He urged UN Security Council passage of a much debated resolution condemning the Damascus regime's violence. Russia and China have so far refused to allow the resolution to go forward, and it continues to be watered down, a western diplomat told journalists in Washington Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

The diplomat also described a Libya-type NATO military intervention in Syria as "inconceivable," and asserted that western governments were not even discussing such action.

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