BY NICOLE THOMPSON
ANCHOR CHRISTINA HARTMAN
You're watching multisource world video analysis from Newsy.
The U.S. is one man down in the Middle East-- as U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford is withdrawn from the Middle-Eastern nation. Fox News has more.
“Robert Ford is leaving the country, apparently due to major security concerns now in the capitol city of Damascus. Syria has also been dealing with heavy anti-government protests in recent months, which has led to several civilian deaths.”
The BBC reports, Ford may have made some enemies in Syria.
“The authorities in Damascus have strongly criticized Mr. Ford for meeting with Syrian opposition figures.”
The BBC goes on to explain, this isn’t the first time Ford has been threatened...
“Last month, Mr. Ford and colleagues were pelted with eggs and tomatoes when visiting an opposition figure. He was then briefly trapped in his office by pro-Assad demonstrators.”
Last year, Ford became the first ambassador to Syria in five years- a controversy in itself. His departure has CNN anchor Max Foster asking-- should the U.S. even have an ambassador in Syria?
“There are Republicans who didn’t want an ambassador going back into Syria because it didn’t want to seem to be supporting it in any way, and it is, under the state department rules, still seen as a state sponsor of terrorism. But at the same time it’s a crucial player in that region, so a lot of Democrats and other people around the world want to see a U.S. presence there because they say, let’s try to deal with them anyway, let’s try to find out what is their thinking.”
So what’s next for the U.S.-- Syria - and Ambassador Ford? Al Jazeera reports -
“[U.S. State Department spokesman Mark] Toner said the U.S. embassy will remain open in Damascus and that the threats were specifically directed toward Ford. He added that Ford's return to Damascus would depend on a US ‘assessment of Syrian regime-led incitement and the security situation on the ground.’”
CNN reports Ford has been outspoken about Syria’s crackdown on anti-government protesters. According to the UN, more than 3,000 people - mostly unarmed demonstrators - have been killed since those protests began.
Transcript by Newsy.
BY MIKKEL NOEL LANZKY
ANCHOR ANA COMPAIN-ROMERO
The Syrian government has agreed to a ceasefire proposal from the Arab League. The plan contains concessions the regime had previously denied making, and could halt all violence for several months. Al Jazeera sums up the proposal:
“Among the points in the plan is an immediate end to the violence, which means Syrian troops should be taken off the streets. At the same time, security forces should stop their crackdown on civilians. And thirdly, the government and opposition should immediately convene a national dialogue.”
News of the ceasefire has been received with mixed emotions. NPR points out, the Syrian regime has violated such promises before:
“Now, what happens on the ground remains to be seen. Just yesterday, activists reported that tens of protesters were killed in clashes with government forces in Homs, which has been the epicenter of the country's seven-month uprising [...] Another thing to keep in mind is that during this uprising, Assad's regime has promised ceasefires only to send tanks into demonstrations shortly after.”
The New York Times says the agreement could pave the way for new protests -- only if Assad abides by it.
“The Arab League plan calls for Syrian and international news media to have full access to the country. If the Syrian government abided by the agreement, it would basically not fire on demonstrators at all. That could open the way for massive street demonstrations like those that rocked Tahrir Square in February and brought down the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, or those before, in Tunisia.”
Observers worry that the acceptance of a ceasefire could just be a play for time. The Guardian writes:
“Given the regime's repressive record, scepticism that such an inevitably drawn-out process would be allowed to reach fruition seems fully justified. Seen this way, the League's plan could quickly become a convenient cover, behind which the uprising would be definitively crushed.”
Inside Syria, protesters on the streets keep calling for NATO to enforce a no-fly zone, but such a move - essentially requiring armed conflict with the Syrian army - has been ruled out by top NATO staff. This refusal sends an unfortunate signal to autocratic regimes, opines Commentary Magazine:
“First, you’re much better off being friends with Russia and China than the West. [...] Second, joining the radical Islamic camp led by Iran is a good investment. [...] Third, the West really does care about nothing but oil. If you discount oil.”
Transcript by Newsy.