News / Middle East

US Pulls Ambassador From Syria

The U.S. Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, during a visit the restive northern Syrian town of Jisr al-Shughur, June 2011. (file photo)
The U.S. Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, during a visit the restive northern Syrian town of Jisr al-Shughur, June 2011. (file photo)
Ben Gilbert

The United States has pulled its ambassador from Syria due to security concerns.  

The U.S. Embassy says Ambassador Robert Ford returned to Washington due to threats on his life that no longer made it safe for him to remain in Syria. Ford has infuriated Syrian authorities by meeting with opposition figures and showing support for protesters calling for an end to the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

In July, Ford made a trip to the protest hub of Hama during a massive protest. The Syrian government condemned his actions, and Assad supporters tried to storm the U.S. Embassy compound and the ambassador’s residence. Ford and other embassy officials were later attacked with stones and tomatoes as Ford left a meeting with an opposition figure on September 29.

Chargé d'affaires Haynes Mahoney has been put in charge of the embassy in Damascus.  He says Ford was withdrawn after receiving “direct threats against his personal safety” that included what Mahoney says were “false and malicious articles” in government-controlled and affiliated media in Syria.

"For example, there was one stating that he was attempting to implement a civil war in Syria," said Mahoney. "And then there was another that claims that he was in charge of death squads in Iraq, and he was trying to apply his experience here in Syria. Our assessment was that these articles were trying to incite violence against him, and the attack that happened on September 29 by pro-regime thugs was another example of threats against his security.”

Mahoney says the embassy continues to function and that Ambassador Ford will return as soon as security conditions permit.

"We hope the regime will end its incitement campaign against the ambassador, because his presence here is a benefit to our mission, and to deliver our message and be our eyes on the round," said Mahoney.

Ford is the first American ambassador assigned to Syria since 2005, when the previous ambassador was withdrawn over allegations Syria was involved in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Syria has denies any involvement in the assassination.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs