US-Syrian Relations Hurt by Attack on Embassy

President Al-Assad with Ambassador Ford
President Al-Assad with Ambassador Ford

Pro-Syrian government protestors attacked the US mission in Syria on Monday, breaking windows, writing graffiti which referred to the American ambassador as a dog, and raising the Syrian flag. These actions came in response to Ambassador Robert Ford’s unauthorized visit to Hama, where he was welcomed with flowers and olive branches on his car. Hama is a hot-spot for anti-government protests in Syria.

Syrian Regime Incited Mob

Just before the angry mob of several hundred protestors formed in Damascus, one of the Syrian TV stations close to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, urged the people to send a “message” to the US ambassador. The TV station had reported that the ambassador had incited the people of Hama to riot against the Syrian government during his visit four days before.

Clinton Angry

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reacted angrily to the charges, to the incitement, and to the attack.

“President Assad is not indispensable and we have absolutely nothing invested in him remaining in power,” Ms. Clinton said.  “Our goal is to see that the will of the Syrian people for a democratic transformation occurs.”

Ambassador Ford defended his visit to Hama, saying that he and the French ambassador went to Hama on Thursday to get a first-hand look at the types of protests happening there as well as to send a message that the US and other countries were watching the actions of the Syrian regime in Hama and elsewhere.

“The Syrian government can organize protests at our embassy if it wants, but the world will not be distracted from the fact that it is the Syrian government that is imprisoning, torturing and killing people who want to peacefully protest,” J.J. Harder, the embassy press attaché, told reporters.