GOP members of Congress are pressuring President Barack Obama to withdraw the U.S. ambassador to Syria. The members of the House and Senate argue that the administration’s policy of engagement has had no effect on President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on protesters, The Washington Post reports
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
, R-Fla., is the latest member to support the recall of Ambassador Robert Ford. “The regime has made it clear though its brutal actions and through the refusal of senior officials to meet with the Ambassador that it is not interested in diplomacy,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement, according to the Post. “Any continued presence of a U.S. ambassador will either be used by the regime for propaganda purposes or just plain ignored.”
Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., had previously supported the recall. Obama administration officials have argued that Ford’s continued presence is still valuable, noting he has been able to meet with opposition figures and refute government propaganda. However, Ford recently participated in a tour organized by the Syrian government to show it was not sponsoring violence against its people, the Post reported.
Ros-Lehtinen said the tour “provided legitimacy to a ploy aimed at covering up the regime’s violence against the Syrian people” and “compromised U.S. credibility with freedom and pro-democracy advocates,” the Post reported. Ford is the first ambassador to Damascus since President George W. Bush withdrew the ambassador in 2005 amid allegations that Syria had a hand in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri.
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