Republican Florida lawmaker Ileana Ros-Lehtinen criticized U.S. President Barack Obama’s move to appoint an ambassador to Damascus, accusing him of offering concessions to a country that is “destabilizing” Lebanon.
“During the past two years, Syria has continued to sponsor violent extremism and pursue dangerous weapons programs, and has also supplied long-range missiles to Hizbullah and reasserted its destabilizing influence in Lebanon at the expense of that nation’s sovereignty,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement after Obama bypassed Congress to name Robert Ford as ambassador.
“Making underserved concessions to Syria tells the regime in Damascus that it can continue to pursue its dangerous agenda and not face any consequences from the U.S.,” the Florida lawmaker 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,” said Ros-Lehtinen, who will head the House Foreign Affairs Committee next month after her party swept mid-term elections.
But Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Ford can make clear to Syria “that there are consequences for their actions, good and bad.”
“I think we’re better off with many difficult countries when we’re in their face, not when we ignore them,” he said.
Mohamad Bazzi, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said: “If the United States only sent its envoys to friendly or compliant countries, there would be far fewer U.S. embassies in the world.”(Naharnet-AFP)
Beirut, 30 Dec 10, 07:38