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Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford: I could no longer ‘defend the American policy’

June 3rd, 2014
10:48 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria, who left his post just a month ago, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday that he could no longer stand behind his government.

“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 left Syria in February 2012 amid the escalating civil war. He remained ambassador until earlier this year; the embassy has been extremely active on social media.

Syria is holding presidential elections on Tuesday, but ballots are only being cast in areas controlled by President Bashar al-Assad, and his only two opponents were government-approved.

“There really is nothing we can point to that’s been very successful in our policy except the removal of about ninety-three percent of some of Assad’s chemical materials. But now he’s using chlorine gas against his opponents.”

At the beginning of Syria’s conflict, the U.S. State Department – including then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – pushed hard for America to provide robust support for the moderate opposition; that recommendation was not followed.

Ford said it is “now widely known that the State Department thought we needed to give much more help to the armed opposition in Syria.”

American policy, he said, has “evolved” a bit more in that direction, but it needs to go further.

“The United States and our friends, we have tools that could put greater pressure on Bashar al-Assad,” Ford said. “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.”

Assad would not be in the powerful position he now is, Ford told Amanpour, were it not for the support from outside powers like Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia.

“We're always a little bit behind the curve. And we need to get ahead of the curve. That is important.”

The common refrain among people skeptical of deeper involvement in Syria is that with the influx of terrorist groups, America and its allies no longer know who the opposition really is.

Ford refuted that notion head on.

“We've identified them quite well now. 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.”

“They need to get the tools they must have to change the balance on the ground, at least in some localities.”

“And by the way, they're actually winning in the north of Syria. Assad has done well in the capital, down south. But in the north, the moderate opposition is actually gaining ground.”

“We will need friends on the ground – not American soldiers, but friends, Syrians – who are fighting those groups and we need to help those people in their fight against al Qaeda. And we need to do it urgently.”

Ford said that the current state of affairs, in which the moderate opposition has now been forced to fight both the Assad regime and Islamist terrorist groups, is no surprise.

Assad “physically does not control two-thirds of Syria,” Ford said. “And we warned even as long as two years ago that terrorist groups would go into that vacuum, as we had seen in places like Afghanistan and Somalia and Yemen and Mali.”

“This is not rocket science. In a place where there is no government control, terrorist groups can infiltrate in and set up places where they can operate freely.”

“And we warned this would happen in Syria, and it has.”

As someone with deep ties to the country, Ford said the situation in Syria is profoundly depressing and distressing.

“I think all of us, people who hold to basic values of human decency and dignity, need to help Syrians.”

“It is not a conflict that we should ignore, either on moral grounds or on national security grounds, given the extremist threat to us and our friends.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Syria • U.S. Politics
soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. Lori

    The truth is sometimes painful to hear. The US government should be ashamed.

    June 3, 2014 at 11:48 am | Reply
    • Jeremy Goldberg

      I think US policy is working as designed. Bush destroyed Iraq for the benefit of Israel and Obama connived at the destruction of Syria for the same reason. Israel wants their ancient land more than they want peace, so for them the terrorist danger "goes with the territory". For the US, our policy is both shameful and against our national interest. But when is the last time that determined out Middle Eastern policy?

      June 3, 2014 at 8:28 pm | Reply
      • tim

        I think we should observe the GTFO foreign policy in the middle east.

        June 4, 2014 at 1:28 am |
      • Astaris

        How was your morning hangover?! :-)

        June 4, 2014 at 8:40 am |
      • Astaris

        By the way, Afghanistan was also a Zionist plot. Millions of Israelis, particularly liberal Tel Aviv women, the LGBT community, hi-tech entrepreneurs and leading members of the Hassidic community, are clamouring to move there. Kandahar is really the "in" place for hipster hebrews these days... only the wimps want to move to Baghdad and Homs ;-)

        June 4, 2014 at 8:46 am |
      • vincenton

        Astaris, you're a typical al-taqiyya Muslim moron blaming "Zionism" and "Jews" for everything.

        Guess what? It's Muslims who openly state they wanna take over the world, kill infidels and impose their evil religion and beliefs.

        June 10, 2014 at 2:58 am |
      • morebs

        bingo! if you start taking a closer look at our elected officials, you might find some disturbing facts, which makes you wonder, whose agenda are we supporting u.s. or another country. people need to start educating themselves on who they are putting in office. instead of using the internet to put hateful bs ,

        June 24, 2014 at 4:36 pm |
    • carlloeber

      Say likeit is Lori .... and Mr. Ford ... it is not "American policy" .. it is the policy of one man ! BH Obama!

      June 4, 2014 at 2:53 am | Reply
    • zman

      The truth is bad enough, but the lies are worse. Mr Ford states that Assad is now using chlorine gas on his people...is he using the same proof that Kerry aledged we had when he said Assad used chemical weapons earlier? We now know that it was Turkey that did the deed at the behest of our government. There is also a recording of Turkish officials talking about another false flag, also at the urging of Kerry ("when are you going to pull the trigger?"). They talked of sending in a small contingent into Syria to attack Turkey, to bring NATO into this mess. Who do these morons think will end up in charge? Another Iraq, Libya,Egypt et al is not in anyones interest but weapons makers. Apparently lives are cheap and morality is just lip service.

      June 4, 2014 at 7:30 pm | Reply
    • Charles

      The U.S. must not arm “moderate” Syrian rebels. That would be yet another in a series of U.S. intervention blunders in the Middle East!
      Iraq: The U.S. attacked Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein, removing a major counterforce to Iran, triggering a sectarian conflict which strengthened terrorist groups, and destabilizing the entire region. Iraq is still in chaos from the sectarian violence triggered by U.S. intervention and in danger of a disastrous civil war.
      Libya: The U.S. attacked Libya militarily to remove Kaddafi and set off a chaotic tribal conflict which resulted in the murder of our Ambassador and several other Americans. We are preparing to evacuate all other Americans because of the chaos we caused—Libya is still a U.S.-induced disaster.
      Egypt: The U.S. encouraged the overthrow of long-time ally President Mubarak in Egypt and facilitated the rise of the anti-American terrorist group Muslim Brotherhood which, once in office, attempted to hijack the government and install Sharia law to oppress the people of Egypt. Only by Egyptian military intervention and subsequent election of Abdel Al-Sissi has the country been rescued from terrorist control.
      Syria: Arming Syrian rebels, even “moderates,” to encourage the removal of Assad would eventually result in the rise to power of more extreme, Anti-American terrorist groups in Syria and continued chaos like that caused by U.S. intervention in other nations of the region. Moderate opposition groups can be funded and armed by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states which oppose Assad—there is no compelling need for U.S. intervention. Most U.S. allies have already concluded that Assad is less an external threat than are the Islamist fundamentalist terrorists who would achieve power with his downfall.
      The Islamist fundamentalist movement numerous locations in the world, naively called the “Arab Spring,” is a greater threat to world peace than the communist movements of the mid-20th Century. U.S. support of those movements increases the expansion of that threat and undermines the long-term security of the United States.
      Given Ambassador Ford's eagerness for the U.S. to intervene in Syria, his retirement was a positive event.

      June 11, 2014 at 9:47 am | Reply
    • guest

      We are now moving to an isolation policy for foreign affairs. Making another attack in the same magnitude of Pearl Harbor and September 11th more likely.

      June 14, 2014 at 5:26 am | Reply
  2. xreals

    I agree with him. From the first day I was saying this. I do not want to support the rebels, there are too many unknowns among them. Risking that radicals could get their hands on chemical weapons and even more weapons would have been catastrophic and there would be no way for us to secure the weapons in time. It also would make it easier for the extremists to effectively take over the country from the "legitimate" rebels.

    However, I wouldn't back Assad either. In my opinion, the mend to this situation is a third party intervention where we leverage our might with advanced technologies. We are very late in doing this, but had this been done even a year ago, we'd likely have a better situation now.

    It's not a matter of whether our intervention would make it worse, it's already been to the peaks of horror and the time has elapsed anyway. I'm not advocating for boots on the ground, I'm not asking to choose a side. What I'm asking for is to gain military superiority in Syria and force all warring parties to comply with a sequence of events which must happen.
    Each event is a test, an obedience test punishable by drone strikes.

    First have them in charge of the regions each party controls, restrict their movement between regions, defend regional forces from attacking forces and attack parties who refuse to comply as we must get rid of them anyway. Set up bases strategically outside cities in open grounds like the deserts. All strikes could be done by various types of drones for a very long time until we reach that point in the line of events to follow where control and a proper system is set up.

    June 3, 2014 at 12:43 pm | Reply
    • Cyrus

      Indeed it is not rocket science. I agree with Robert Ford 100%.

      I am not an expert but since 3 years ago while U.S. was sitting on his hand in regard to Syrian conflict I could EASILY and CLEARLY see the secular opposition to Assad is giving way to Islamist extremists, which certainly is against U.S. national interest.

      Obama has no understanding of world issues and how to handle them or develop any effective foreign policy. Since he has taken office U.S. foreign policy has been nothing but empty words of expressing "Regret", "Concern", "Happy", "Disappointed" etc etc. and no action period. Obama has no concept of price to be paid in long run and he only sees extremely short term gains. He has resolved Iraq by surrendering it to Iran, "Resolved" Afghanistan by turning it into an enemy of U.S. and a center of world drug production and Al Qaida is fully active. He has been losing Ukraine piece by piece to Russia. He has turned Syria to the new Islamic lawless state and a nest for Islamic extremist and a platform to lunch their attacks against U.S. He has been completely impotent in Israels, Palestinian peace process. If it wasn't for quick and leading roles of French and Italians, we would have a massacre by Qadafi and a mess of country. In Egypt, thanks God the military leaders did not give in to Obama administration or we would have another Extremist Islamic state name Egypt. Yes, Obama has either been completely passive and if he ever took any action it was the wrong one and against U.S. interest.

      In fact, other than his effective sanction against Iran, I have not seen ANY bright spot in his foreign policy.

      I am afraid, in the long run, we will pay the price for all his mistakes and with huge interest. Needless to say I am very disappointed at him.

      June 3, 2014 at 6:02 pm | Reply
    • Charly (Florida)

      We supported the Taliban to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. We had 9/11 as a thank you gift. We armed the Libyan fighters and they killed our Ambassador with those same weapons. When are we going to learn not to make the same mistake of the past. If you want to give a hand to your Al Qaeda friends, why don't you take grab a plane ticket to Syria and join them. The Ambassador is politically motivated in his position. His position echoed those of McCain who flew out there to meet with Al Qaeda members. Our politicians speak with both sides of their mouth.

      June 3, 2014 at 11:59 pm | Reply
      • Melody

        Great Post!

        June 4, 2014 at 3:20 am |
      • zman

        AMEN!

        June 4, 2014 at 7:03 pm |
      • Toppies Van Vuuren

        Charly, thats a great post mate.

        June 5, 2014 at 2:48 am |
    • Wim Roffel

      Ford carries a major responsibility for the mess that we now see in Syria. His claim that if we had only supported the moderates more everything would have worked out well is nonsense. It didn't work in Iraq, Libya or Egypt.

      Syria has a strict dictatorship for a reason as anyone who has has studied the Muslim Brotherhood uprising around 1980 will understand: the country is very divided. The way to solve that is by trying to build bridges, not by polarization as Ford tried to do.

      June 4, 2014 at 4:35 am | Reply
  3. doug

    Good bye Mr. Ford and thanks for your ignorance against the Syrian Kurds.

    June 3, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Reply
  4. ashok

    Strong, decisive by the US is needed, whether it is on Syria or helping Asia face up to China.

    June 3, 2014 at 2:32 pm | Reply
    • Melody

      You go for it on your own blood & treasury.

      June 4, 2014 at 3:22 am | Reply
  5. ashok

    decisive .. leadership .. by

    June 3, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Reply
  6. metropolis

    At least one US official with a backbone and brains, the rest is a bunch of nutters. Now they are repeating the same mess in Ukraine.

    June 3, 2014 at 4:46 pm | Reply
  7. wyattdixon99

    Syria is a big mess and there's not much we can do about it unfortunately. When the Arabs get tired of killing each other maybe they'll stop. There's no sense in sending our soldiers over there to die......for what? We should stay out of it.

    June 3, 2014 at 4:47 pm | Reply
    • alan s

      Wyatt: You wrote that there is no reason to send our soldiers to die over there. You're correct in that, but no one has suggested the U.S. send any soldiers there. Some Americans think the U.S. should provide material support for some of the anti-Assad forces. That is the debate: not whether the U.S. should send troops, but whether the U.S. should send equipment and perhaps weapons for anti-Assad Syrians to use fighting their own civil war.

      June 3, 2014 at 7:07 pm | Reply
      • Shelagh shackleton

        Sending equipment and ammunition would be a bad idea.It could even fall into Assad's hands.Secondly the U.s should have learnt it's lesson by now.The U.S fought alongside Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan in his fight against Russia.The U.S at that stage regardrd Al Quaeda as allies ,trained them andaarmed them.When Al Quaeda then decided to turn on the U.S and the West ,all that equipment was used against the U.S and her allies.

        Now you want to pick and choose between militant Islamic groups in Syria who wish the West harm.You can't buy the bad guys' loyalty.Once they have milked you for whatever they can ,they will use the equipment an ammunition you so trustingly provided against you in further terrorist attacks.On no account should the U.S provide equipment to Muslim terrorist groups in Syria .That is terribly foolish and short sighted.

        June 3, 2014 at 9:01 pm |
    • Shelagh shackleton

      Wholeheartedly agree.If you try to separate two packs of fighting dogs you will be bitten by both lots.Let them kill each other
      off and then when the dust has cleared we can deal with whoever is left.

      June 3, 2014 at 8:54 pm | Reply
    • Ali Jamal

      Agreed

      June 3, 2014 at 9:42 pm | Reply
    • quinterius

      But, we created this mess. You understand even less than if you believed the lies of Ford.

      June 4, 2014 at 6:04 pm | Reply
  8. who is responsible for this?

    CNN is no longer permitted to mention that President Obama?

    June 3, 2014 at 5:02 pm | Reply
  9. Nikan

    Robert Ford – you really do not have a clue do you? The vast majority of Syrians support Assad – openly and enthusiastically – for good reason. You talk about barrel bombs – according to media Assad is supposed to fight jihadists with water cannons – and then casually mention the casualties – that the REBEL MORTARS CREATED without actually mentioning that it was YOUR REBEL BUDDIES WHO KILLED THOSE PEOPLE. It was the 'rebels' who turned off the water and watched while millions in Aleppo suffered for weeks. It was 'rebels' who have targeted schools of young children with car bombs and mortars. It was 'rebels' who murdered 50 people in Aleppo yesterday. It was 'rebels' who fired 48 mortars today into civilian areas in Damascus. It are the rebels in Adra who are refusing thousands of Syrian Christians and Alawites (specifically targeting these two minority groups) from leaving the city that they besieged and hijacked in December. You CAN'T EVEN BE BOTHERED ADDING A QUOTE from an Assad supporter – it would be easy to do as there are about 15 million in Syria to chose from. ANYONE who was actually looking at the crowds of people voting in Syria and before that, the Syrian refugees voting in Lebanon, could NEVER write that they were blackmail or threatened. In fact, they voted in spite of being targeted by rebels; they voted in spite of having to fly in from 'democratic' nations like my own USA who REFUSED TO ALLOW THEM TO VOTE. You, claiming to be a 'news source' are the farce; not only that you have been actively participating in the Islamist coup of Syria (hidden behind a human credibility shield of a few thousand duped reformers) that has always been ARMED, FUNDED, SUPPORTED by the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

    June 3, 2014 at 6:09 pm | Reply
    • Serious Truth

      Is this you Assad?

      June 3, 2014 at 6:41 pm | Reply
      • Nikan

        What, you want Syria to be a good little western supported democracy like Pakistan? Pakistan has the anti-blasphemy law. Any person can go to a police station, put their hand on a Quran, say 'Joe blasphemed'. Joe is immediately put into prison where he's tortured, his family is abused and has to go underground and Joe will be executed as it is now an automatic death sentence. But if Joe is acquitted, he's still dead anyway because the Islamist extremists will kill him and the 'democratic' government of Pakistan who we just sent $1.5 billion to won't do a thing about it. In US backed democratic Pakistan, the possible MOST corrupt government on the planet spends a whopping 0.25% – yes ZERO POINT 25 % on education. Assad spent an average of 16% of GDP on education.

        June 3, 2014 at 6:51 pm |
      • Ali Jamal

        What now... Nikan below now sound like a Paki Imran Khan lol...

        June 3, 2014 at 9:37 pm |
  10. Serious Truth

    What? The Obama Administration is not perfect in foreign policy? During the election Obama said he had so much more experience. Does Syria count as experience?

    June 3, 2014 at 6:43 pm | Reply
    • Ali Jamal

      Experience at the cost of lives and messing other nations is hardly experience. So should we pass Hiroshima & Nagasaki as a "experience" or a "mistake".
      Hun

      June 3, 2014 at 9:40 pm | Reply
  11. Charlie

    Duh!

    June 3, 2014 at 6:50 pm | Reply
  12. PoBoy

    For all of you who more US involvement in yet another Middle East mess, feel free to board a plane, travel to Syria and join the cause. Apparently some Americans have already done this. The US is under no obligation to support any side, and in fact, as we have learned too many times now, your friend today, can quicky become your enemy tomorrow. (the Taliban comes to mind).

    June 3, 2014 at 6:53 pm | Reply
  13. Paul R

    Everybody has to blame someone for a counrty going into Civil War. The Ambassador of course can not be at fault. He had nothing to do with it. He only lived there and walked the streets and talked to the people and knew the country's leadership and shopped at the stores and drove down the streets. BUT he had ZERO responsibility for Syria going down the drain. So it is Everyone' fault back in D.C., plus Iowa. That is right, folks in Iowa have some serious questions to answer since they let this Civil War just HAPPEN. UNBELIEVABLE !!!!!!

    June 3, 2014 at 7:02 pm | Reply
    • alan s

      Paul: It's pretty hard to blame the U.S. ambassador for the Syrian civil war.

      June 3, 2014 at 7:10 pm | Reply
    • quinterius

      Nonsense. Until now, he was the U.S. point man on Syria and coordinated all the activities of the rebels from the U.S. point of view,. He would have created even a bigger mess if had his way.

      June 4, 2014 at 6:01 pm | Reply
      • Andani

        Seriously every Arab wants Asaad to win, we have seen what happened in lybia, Egypt miraculously kicked out the Muslim B.

        June 26, 2014 at 10:57 pm |
  14. tvnutt

    You know, the devil you know is better than the devil you don't. Assad is a maniac but he is trying to prevent terrorists from taking over as they did in Iraq and Libya. No, the US shouldn't support him but NO WAY should we support the opposition. There are so many foreign fighters that the real opposition has minimized or been overrun by terrorists who have NO interest in Syria. I agree, Obama is terrible as foreign policy. However, we should be glad McCain didn't win the first time. He is a HUGE supporter of the opposition. He's just as clueless and war monger. You think he'd learn after being held in the Hanoi HIlton how bad war is but he's not beyond sending our men and women to fight other people's wars.

    June 3, 2014 at 7:14 pm | Reply
  15. menisino

    Putin has had it his way in Syria & now in Ukraine. Clearly this President just doesn't have it when it comes to making tough decisions. You can't just always look up at your enemy sometimes you have to get your ass off the chair & stand up....stand up Mr. Obama. Stand up for Gods sake & face your enemy.

    June 3, 2014 at 9:05 pm | Reply
  16. Ali Jamal

    There are bodies like NATO & UNO who should instead take the lead & I believe It is time that US should stop being a world Marshal for good. There are times when things just are not in your hands. Can't you see, while USA focuses on matters which largely does not concern it, Republic of China, Korea, Russian Federation are building their own nations and investing the energies and resources for themselves. Let alone 'what larger benefit can USA get out of this Syrian Conflict than create new enemies; ask yourselves?'

    I also think that it should be time to rethink the foreign policies esp. towards countries like Israel & Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The fact of the matter is over the past few decades, these two are the only countries who have been the Root-Causes of the 99% of the major conflicts in the world. It is true for a fact. So re-evaluate, differentiate, and start acting sensibly. The for some reason just can't go around with normalcy. 'Devils we sleeping with' that’s what it is all about.

    June 3, 2014 at 9:26 pm | Reply
    • quinterius

      Well, we saw what a wonderful job NATO did in Libya.

      June 4, 2014 at 5:59 pm | Reply
  17. hoyal09

    Reblogged this on orhun hakan yalincak.

    June 3, 2014 at 9:34 pm | Reply
  18. Steve Grant

    China knows how to stay out of other peoples messes. They have there own. And they are very good at it.......... Russia knows how to stay out of other peoples messes. They have their own. America tries to conduct every one else's business while refusing to acknowledge that it has it's own. I think the government has forgotten that America is even in North America. Do you think they could point out America on the map?

    June 3, 2014 at 10:31 pm | Reply
  19. Charly (Florida)

    The Ambassador wanted Obama to give weapons to Al Qaeda so that they could turn around and kill him and those around him with those same weapons, just like they did to Ambassador Christ Stevens. I think some people will never learn. We are still living the consequences of arming the Taliban to fight the Russians. History is supposed to teach us not to repeat the same mistake of the past. The Ambassador is free to join the Al Qaeda in Syria or use his fortune to buy them weapons if he thinks they are good people. What a useless Ambassador. I am glad they got him out of there before he committed suicide.

    June 3, 2014 at 11:50 pm | Reply
  20. aaron

    The US foreign policy is simply regime change or threatening non-subservient leaders with sanctions and military force. Thank God Russia put a stop to their bullying in the Middle East.

    June 4, 2014 at 12:19 am | Reply
  21. Silv

    CNN; you, former ambassador and Christian Amanpour are siding and trying to help criminals, We as Syrian Americans know very well why.... You are calling terrorists and criminals "rebels", will that be the case when they come back to USA and start a "Revolution"??? .... And yes Assad will stay because Syrian citizens wants him to stay, you like it or you don't like that is your problem.... HANDS OFF SYRIA!!! You are criminals for igniting that proxy war in Syria, and we all know it is for geopolitical reasons.... Assad will go down in the history as a national Hero, and you all as war mongers.... You are helping the terrorists, Iran and Russia are helping our families.... HANDS OFF SYRIA!!! You have no rights to get involved in Syria!!! Syrian citizens hates you, they will not forget, nor forgive you for this. Those kids will grow up and remind the world how USA destroyed their lives ... .... They all know the truth, you can't manipulate Syrians.....

    June 4, 2014 at 1:48 am | Reply
  22. Moderate Extreemist

    This whole interview is a sham and full of lies and Deceptions , the US is funding arming and supporting extremists .
    .
    Mr Ford claims that we need to arm the " Moderates " , and here's the Deception , as a matter of fact , these moderates are nothing but a front to funnel arms to the Extremists and that's been the modus Operandi of this administration . . .
    .
    Let's also be honest when describing Moderates Vs Etreemists : Extreemists Butcher the Syrian people in extremely violent manner as opposed to the Moderates who kill Syrians in a more moderte fashion . . . It's like saying one's moderately pregnant Vs being Extreemly pregnant .
    .
    Nothing but a sham theatre and nobody's buying your crap Mr FORD .
    --------------

    June 4, 2014 at 3:42 am | Reply
  23. Moderate Extreemist

    Here's an example of Mr Ford's " Moderates " and how they're moderately shelling a Christian Monastery in Aleppo just yesterday as he was making this Interview :

    https://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?v=586776868107933&set=vb.364359193683036&type=2&theater
    .
    ---------

    June 4, 2014 at 4:13 am | Reply
  24. Erm...

    American policy is setting up juntas that commit war crimes and kill civilians, like in Ukraine.

    June 4, 2014 at 7:58 am | Reply
  25. dmaak112

    Ambassador Ford’s take on Syria is, at best, disingenuous. America has no problem with authoritarian governments, and will defend them. The majority of our Arab friends are ruled by the Medieval Age system of divine right of kings. Others are under military rule or depend upon religious orientation. Many of these countries were artificial creations of the old imperial powers of Britain and France. What most politicians and media correspondents deliberately leave out in discussing and analyzing the Syrian war is that Syria is a minor player in a much larger game for control of the Persian Gulf and oil. Saudi Arabia and the nearby oil sheiks are concerned about Iran’s position and its potential to dominate the region. Coming to their aid is the US and its European allies. In this zero sum contest, Damascus was viewed as easy picking–denying Tehran of its only Arab ally. Ambassador Ford also obfuscates about the early backers of the Syrian conflict as well. Before the influx of Iranian or Russian or Hezbollah assistance, the rebels were receiving money and material aid from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, etc. Washington et al lined up immediately to isolate Bashar al-Asad and apply direct pressure in the belief that his fall was imminent. But the war dragged on and the Arab oil monarchs backed the radical elements that predominate in the battle to topple the Syrian government. As for control of Syria, Ambassador Ford’s claim of territorial control may be correct, but Asad has control of the most populous areas. The empty deserts and borderlands would also come under his control if it was not for the massive assistance the rebels continue to get as well as its bases in adjoining countries. Mr. Ford has no problem with Mr. Obama’s strategy, only his tactics. President Obama’s failure was to listened to the same advice given to his predecessor and launch America into regime change schemes and wars. The death and destruction that has befallen Syria is as much to blame upon the opponents as well as the supporters of the only Arab secular government in the area.

    June 4, 2014 at 9:14 am | Reply
  26. Canthama

    A shame of interview, a shame for the US Government, NATO and Middle Eastern Tyrant Governments, innocent people blood in all their hands, people want forget that very easily. This moment in history will go down as the lowest point for the new world order, literally very similar as the end of the Roman Empire, corrupted to the bone, morally and ethically, we all know what happened latter don't we ? Bye bye new world order, welcome to the next 100 years of the new world order without the hypocritical Western mentallity.

    June 4, 2014 at 10:43 am | Reply
  27. Dee Cape Town

    TO THE CNN MNISTRY OF TRUTH circa 1984 CENSOR BOARD:
    Ford, like Pyott and Nuland are by international law, criminals who use the economic warfare of sanctions to exploit social malcontent; then buy, recruit and arm insurrectionists, supply the snipers who shoot both police and peaceful protesters to incite extreme violence – leading to a bloody coup or UNcivil war.

    PLEASE ASK FOUL FORD TO NAME JUST ONE "MODERATE" ISLAMIST "REBEL" GROUP IN SYRIA – that the Depraved Stazi of America sees fit to provide support via the finest Marine training, lethal arms, special services, sarin for false flag gassing of civilians, political and Ministry of Truth media mafia.

    It may not be apparent to Americans, but it is to the REAL 'International Community' that US Ambassadors, foul mouth 'diplomats', USAID and Trojan horse NGO's are a serious liability for any nation to have on their soil. There should come a time when any travelling American is subjected to the same prejudice as people of m.east origin are by your nation – because between Al CIAda, economic saboteurs, United Stazi officials – America is waging the greatest War oF Terror across the planet – and it's moral bankruptcy matches it's financial malfeasance.

    You might just as well ask Washington D-C to publish the names of selected criminals they intend installing in unconquered nations – for it is quite apparent that 'DemoCracy' now equates to the vote by Washington alone and is only deemed acceptable / legitimate as per Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Ukraine when :
    – the criminal background local cadre have been installed as 'caretakers'
    – the criminal appointee amenable to ongoing ethnic cleansing after US "peace and democracy" effected – as evidenced in Ukraine bombardment an killing of ethnic Russians, Iran ongoing Al CIAda balkanizing operations, Libya bombardment of citizens, and Afghanistan where US clings like dung to a blanket 13yrs an 3x killing of Osama later
    – the US/Nato military bases established, arms deals done, services of US to train local forces agreed, leaving US troops free to take care of the 'security interests' of Corporate America resource plunder operations
    – the contracts for Bidens-Boy-Bechtel-Halliburton-et al are signed, any and all gold reserves plundered back to United Stazi, the nations central bank under control of World Bank and Banksters.
    Only then will a Demo-Crazy sham of ballot box stuffing 'elections' be held .... and where there is a true will of the people democratic vote as per Crimea, Donesk, Syria etc – well spot the difference : This was not the will of Corporate America – so it is deemed illegitimate.

    Sad thing is – pretty much the same applies in America too – but y'all are too stupid to see it.

    And yes ... I give this post about 30 seconds or less before it is censored .... for it is the truth.

    June 4, 2014 at 10:50 am | Reply
  28. quinterius

    Ford is right that the Obama policy has failed. But, he wrong in the solution that he proposes. The U.S. has no business interfering in the internal affairs of Syria. It was utterly stupid for Obama to say, "Assad must go." How about if Putin said, "Obama must go?" It is simply arrogance and stupidity.

    More than that, the U.S. must use its influence to stop the barbarian Saudis and Turks from supporting the crazy "rebels," who are mostly foreigner and have engaged in horrible deeds including cannibalism., To repeat, Obama has caused the deaths of over 150,000 Syrians and created several million refuges. He should give back his undeserved Nobel Peace Prize.

    Finally, Ford is quite wrong in saying that Assad is only winning in Damascus. Has he been sleeping or is he just blind. The entire west of Syria is now almost entirely controlled by Assad, although Allepo is still disputed. Homs was taken over entirely by Assad a few weeks ago. And, the rebels are killing each other every day. In about a year or so, Assad will be victorious and the U.S. will look like the absolute fool. It will never have an influence in Syria.

    June 4, 2014 at 5:54 pm | Reply
  29. A. Aydin

    Thank you for this great video interview. It is very educational and a breath of fresh air about our government’s position in this war.
    It makes you wonder about the true intentions of US foreign policy in Syria and for the Middle East. The main objective and concerns of the defense, intelligence and state departments has been fighting and eliminating terrorist organizations for the last 12 years. Why then would this administration stand by and does nothing of substance to influence the outcome of this conflict? Knowing well from its well informed and experienced people such as Ambassador Ford and others that such a “do nothing” position will be an open invitation to terrorists organizations from Syria’s neighbors? Taking such an indefensible and illogical stance on a very critical and vital issue for US security and for the region’s stability and for its future is incomprehensible. Furthermore, it begs for speculative answers for WHY? Could it be?
    a- An incompetent, naïve, reluctant or a distracted administration.
    b- An opportunity to flush these organizations out in the open and use Syria as a new theater for killing them. Disregarding the consequences and the costs in human life, suffering and destruction of a country and its people.
    c- This do nothing position and the resulting destruction of Syria and the killing and fracturing of its people, is an outcome that is tacitly, but silently, welcomed by Israel. The American Israeli lobbying power and its influence on the US Middle Eastern policy is legendary; and can trump the course of action that may be desired by any president or administration and being in the best US interest, not withstanding.

    At the end, the history of the Obama administration’s action or inactions in the past three and a half years, speaks volumes in the search for an answer.

    -We have seen cosiderable amount of talk and threats against the criminal Assad and his regime.
    -Many red lines have been crossed at the expense of thousands of inocent lives without any consequence. Our president Speaks very loudly but carries a noodle or an invisible stick that neither our friends nor our enemies can see.
    -The imposed arm embargo applies only to the FSA and the regime’s other oppositions.
    -The chemical weapons’ existence in Syria while in the possession of the Assad clan for 40 years was never acknowledged by Israel or the West until the balance of power started to shift in favor of the resistance.
    -Secretary J. Kerry stated at the Geneva II conference, that our government has factual evidence that Assad invited some of the extremists/Islamists fighters, gave them control of some terretories and towns and his forces never fired a bullet against them or against their positions.
    -The timid, tung in cheek, requests for inspection and protestation by our Seceretary John Kerry to the Maliki government about allowing Iranian daily shuttle flights to Damascus loaded with military and leathal supplies unhindered can’t be considered as a judgement error. How is it possible for a government that was made, approved and installed by the US to defy our government and does not even pretend to be willing to do any thing? It is allowing Iran, supposedly our sworn enemy, to supply Assad by land and air with a none stop life line of military supplies, fighters disguised as pilgrims, food, money and whatever else he needs.
    -Hizbulah is labeled as a terrorist organization and correctly so. However this label does not seem to apply as long as they are killing Syrians or other Arabs or Muslims. Therefore, no action has even been contemplated against them by our government. Perhaps the dead and maimed women and children in Syria should rejoyce for a moral victory since the EU has recently given Hizbullah the terrorist label.
    -The refusal to give the FSA fighters antiaircraft weapons to stop the random and targeted killing of innocent people in Syria is indefensible. The worn out excuse of the fear of falling in the wrong hands is being refuted by weapon experts every where.

    In conclusion, I believe that our government has decided to turn a blind eye to this tragic conflict from the beginning. And regardless of this war’s projected and actual cost in human lives, suffering ,destruction or destabalization. We have given opressed people seeking freedom and dignity and criminal dictators any where in the world a new paradigm to live by. Words like freedom, democracy, life, moral grounds and human dignity have lost their meaning under the watchful eyes of the entire world.
    June, 4, 2014

    June 4, 2014 at 7:34 pm | Reply
  30. Ajaz Haque

    Isn't this Ambassador the root cause of the problem. Against all diplomatic norms, he led a demonstration against the Syrian Government. Regardless of one's views on Asad, Ambassadors are not supposed to create upheaval in other countries. It is surprising that he was not deported from Syria.

    June 4, 2014 at 8:49 pm | Reply
  31. Objective Analyst

    Ford demonstrated that even after several years of experience in the Middle East he is unable to analyze events on the ground using a Middle Eastern mental frame, context, and lenses to analyze Middle Eastern problems. He still uses his American frame of good vs. bad, democracy loving vs. dictatorial regime arguments in Syria.
    Ford's remarks show is that he was the wrong person in the wrong place. He showed a fundamental lack of understanding to the nature of the conflict in Syria. He needs to know "the root causes of the conflict" to be able to address it.
    It is must be crystal clear that what is going on in Syria is not pro-democracy protest. There is a sectarian, fundamentalist Sunni vs. fundamentalist Shiite war that is going on in the ME and, Syria has become the main front.
    The "the moderate opposition is actually gaining ground" he is advocating support for are as moderate as the former Iraqi opposition, Afghan opposition, and Libyan opposition. Simply, they are nonexistent. Those forces are as anti-American as the fundamentalists but, they are better in hiding it.

    June 5, 2014 at 4:57 am | Reply
  32. JD

    There is no moderate opposition in Syria. Arming the opposition will only prolong the conflict, cause more victims, strengthen the radical muslim groups and threaten the existence of the religious minorities in Syria.

    June 5, 2014 at 5:13 am | Reply
  33. hdq

    If the US government want to have peaceful and secure world, they need to discover the virtue of the Rule of Law.
    Lawlessness creates chaos and anarchy, and it was the US government that has been the worst violator of all laws
    in the 21st century: wars of aggression (Iraq, Afghanistan), attempted regime-changes (Syria) – they are all examples of lawlessness – and the results of such lawlessness do no favor either to the American people, or to the people of the victim countries.
    It is time for Rule of Law, enough of criminality of Politics.

    June 5, 2014 at 7:25 am | Reply
  34. Western Propaganda

    CNN is ignoring western war crimes and the shelling of civilians in Ukraine

    CNN are not journalists.

    June 9, 2014 at 9:04 pm | Reply
  35. Andani

    Amen to that

    June 26, 2014 at 10:58 pm | Reply

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