The Middle East Channel

A troubled engagement

On Jan. 16, Amb. Robert Ford stepped off a plane in Damascus — and right into a diplomatic crisis in Lebanon. The news that Hezbollah and its allies, which are supported by Syria and Iran, have secured the votes to elect a friendly Lebanese prime minister will no doubt be on the top of Ford’s ...

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

On Jan. 16, Amb. Robert Ford stepped off a plane in Damascus — and right into a diplomatic crisis in Lebanon. The news that Hezbollah and its allies, which are supported by Syria and Iran, have secured the votes to elect a friendly Lebanese prime minister will no doubt be on the top of Ford’s agenda as Washington struggles to rein in Hezbollah’s growing influence.

Ford’s arrival marks the first time a U.S. ambassador has set foot in Syria since Washington withdrew its last envoy in February 2005 following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Relations between the two countries, while never friendly, have been dismal ever since.

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