Obama policy a failure, says ex-Syria envoy

Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford revealed Tuesday that he resigned from his post because he could no longer defend the Obama administration’s policy in that country. 

“I was no longer in a position where I felt I could defend the American policy,” he said on CNN. “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.”

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The administration’s only success, Ford suggested, is the removal of a majority of President Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons, a deal Russia helped orchestrate after President Obama backed off his threat of a military strike last September. 

But even with that success, Ford said Assad is still using chemical weapons.

“There really is nothing we can point to that’s been very successful in our policy except the removal of about 93 percent of some of Assad’s chemical materials. But now he’s using chlorine gas against his opponents,” he said. 

As far back as 2012, Ford said he warned that terrorist groups would become more pronounced in Syria as they have in Afghanistan, Yemen, Mali and Somalia.

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

Ford retired earlier this year after serving 30 years in the foreign service. He had served as ambassador to Syria since January 2011, just as the country’s civil war erupted during the region’s Arab Spring.

In March, Kerry named Daniel Rubinstein to be the new special envoy to Syria. He had previously worked in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and served in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and Tunisia.

Ford’s comments come less than a week after Kerry said the administration plans to “ramp up” efforts to provide assistance to the opposition in Syria.

Republicans have strongly criticized Obama for not articulating and executing a concrete policy regarding Syria.

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