Syria welcomes new US ambassador to Damascus

Ahmed Eleiba, Saturday 15 Jan 2011

In an interview with Ahram Online, a senior Syrian source expressed Damascus's positive reception of Washington's newly appointed US Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford

Robert Ford

A senior Syrian source told Ahram Online that the newly appointed US Ambassador to Damascus Robert Ford is already in Syria and will begin his work officially on Saturday. The source said that Syria considers Ford’s appointment “a very positive step by Washington and especially to the credit of US President Barak Obama” -- in reference to the fact that Ford was appointed by presidential decree while Congress was in recess.

Coming from Washington, Ford may hold the key to unlocking several pending issues in Middle East. Most notably, these include the Syrian track in the peace process and developments in Lebanon after the opposition ousted the government of Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri on the eve of Ford’s arrival.

According to observers, however, even more central for Washington than these two is the Special Tribunal for Lebanon which is investigating the 2005 assassination of Saad Al-Hariri's father, former premier Rafiq Al-Hariri. The assassination triggered Washington to withdraw its ambassador from Damascus.

The Syrian source said that Ford undoubtedly will play a role, “but this role will not transform positions overnight, and we must cautiously withhold judgment for a while.” He added that “the issue of Lebanon still remains in its early stages”.

As for the Syrian track, the source noted that Washington’s position should be considered at another time when the government in Israel is not a right-wing one led by the incumbent Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

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