Can the US keep Ambassador Ford in Syria after attacks?
Probably for now. But The US has complained that the Syrian government was slow to protect the embassy from the stone-throwing supporters of Bashar al-Assad who invaded.
That about 10 demonstrators were allowed to scale the walls surrounding the US Embassy in Damascus today was alarming.Skip to next paragraph
The Arab League observer mission in Syria is likely to fail
Egypt's military rulers crack down on democracy groups
Iran's threats over Strait of Hormuz? Understandable, but not easy
Eastern Libya poll indicates political Islam will closely follow democracy
Iraq's Maliki threatens, Sunnis grumble, and Baghdad goes boom
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Bashar al-Assad's security state is notoriously effective. Only a few hundred protesters were outside the embassy's gates and there was ample warning. Small groups have been gathering outside to throw eggs and fruit at the embassy for the past few days. And the protest was, at any rate, in Mr. Assad's support.
Though no one was hurt at the US embassy, three French guards were injured at their embassy during a similar protest. The incidents were quickly brought to a close: In the US case, thanks to the intervention of the Marine detachment guarding the embassy. But it will probably add fuel to the fire of those in Washington who have been arguing that President Obama should recall Ambassador Robert Ford in response to the Syrian uprising, which has seen over 1,500 people killed, so far, for challenging Mr. Assad's rule.
RECOMMENDED: What is at stake if Syria's regime falls
Mr. Ford has been on the job for about six months, and was the first person in the post since the Bush administration withdrew Ambassador Margaret Scobey in 2005 in response to the assassination of Lebanese politician Rafik Hariri, which the US blamed on Syria.
Mr. Obama fought considerable congressional opposition to get Ford's appointment approved, arguing that a strong diplomatic voice in Damascus could nudge Syria toward peace talks with Israel and do more to secure US interests than studied disinterest in relations. But Obama's congressional critics argue that his engagement strategy is failing.
Ford visited Hama on Friday as did his French counterpart Eric Chevalier. It was a stunning event: US ambassadors usually stay out of volatile situations, and Hama has been the scene of both massive protests against Assad and the shooting of demonstrators in response. The US embassy in Egypt, for instance, steered well clear of the protests that swept Hosni Mubarak from power earlier this year, though their locus at Tahrir Square was just a few hundred yards away from the embassy (to be sure, the protesters view that the US was steadfastly supporting Mubarak would have made an ambassadorial visit a dicey proposition).