An interview with the US ambassador to SyriaBlogger Marc Lynch interviews US ambassador to Syria Robert Ford.
"I have seen no evidence yet in terms of hard changes on ground that the Syrian government is willing to reform at anything like the speed demanded by the street protestors. If it doesn’t start moving with far greater alacrity, the street will wash them away."Read the whole thing.
That was the blunt verdict offered by U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford in a wide-ranging telephone interview with Foreign Policy today. Ford sharply criticized the Syrian government's continuing repression against peaceful protestors and called on President Bashar al-Assad to "take the hard decisions" to begin meaningful reforms before it is too late. Not, Ford stressed, because of American concerns but because of the impatience of the Syrian opposition itself. "This is not about Americans, it is about the way the Syrian government mistreats its own people," Ford stressed repeatedly. "This is really about Syrians interacting with other Syrians. I’m a marginal thing on the sidelines. I’m not that important."
But thus far, the Syrian regime has chosen to violently crack down on peaceful protests across the country, and has not made the kind of reforms which might have at an earlier point saved the regime. I asked Ford when the Syrian regime's violence would cross the line, when the repression and violence might have gone too far for any peaceful transition to be possible. "That's really not a question for Americans," he responded. "It's a question for the Syrian opposition, a lot of whom are quite tough. I've met enough of them, and believe me, they are a lot tougher than anyone in the Washington Post or the U.S. Senate. They know exactly what they are doing. I have talked to people who have lost immediate family, who have been killed or jailed. Nothing focuses the mind like that."
The Obama administration doesn't get it either. Ford keeps acting as if there's some expectation that Assad will reform (as do Obama and Clinton), and that if he does, the Syrian people will stop the uprising. We're long past that.