[tweetmeme] Happy New Year to everyone, though today is, of course different for everyone. While I intend to post more later today, I thought I would take a brief second to note that US President Obama has announced the appointment of Robert Ford as ambassador to Syria – a post that has been vacant since 2005. For those that have read the blog throughout 2010, you will (probably not) remember that I touched on this topic back on January 30:
After months of rumors, it seems as though Washington is finally ready to name an ambassador to Syria. In part of President Obama’s goal to increase dialog between the US and strong actors in the Middle East, rumors were first revealed in mid-2009 of Obama’s intention to send an American diplomatic mission back to Damascus – from where it was revoked in 2005 after the assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafiq Hariri.
CBS reports that the future ambassador will be Robert Ford – although there has not been an official announcement yet. The CBS article stressed that Ford was fluent in Arabic (I would hope so) and that he is considered an expert in Middle East affairs (again, I would hope so). Ford seems like a good choice for the post. He has worked in Algeria and Iraq (among other places) and, well, a diplomatic team was needed in Damascus a long time ago considering the regional renaissance of Syria.
Obama used the winter recess of Congress to appoint Ford, meaning that he will not need to be confirmed until one year after the end of the current Congress session (likely December 2011). Between the announcement last January and Ford’s appointment several days ago, Republicans have repeatedly blocked the nomination, forcing Obama to use the recess appointment.
Naturally, the Republicans – who refused to work through this winter break – are furious. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the chairwomen of the House Foreign Relations Committee said, “That is the wrong message to be sending to a regime which continues to harm and threaten U.S. interests and those of such critical allies as Israel.”
Maybe Republicans should have just listened to Harry Reid. Then they could be blocking and complaining, instead of just complaining.