In a move which could signal a thaw in years of icy relations, President Barack Obama announced today that he intends to appoint Robert Ford as Ambassador to Syria, pending Senate approval.
The appointment, assuming it is approved, will be the first time the US has had an ambassador in Damascus since February 15, 2005, when President Bush withdrew the last ambassador and accused the Syrian government of a role in the assassination of Rafik Hariri.
The move is not unexpected, as last week the Syrian government was said to have approved an administration request to name a new ambassador. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Mouallem confirmed that the US had submitted Ford as a candidate.
Ford has been a career member of the Foreign Service, and was the Bush Administration’s Ambassador to Algeria from 2006 to 2008. Before that he served as Political Counselor to the embassy in Baghdad.