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Ford to Asharq Al-Awsat: We Gave Syrians False Hope | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Former US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford speaks to Reuters during the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria at Bayan Palace on the outskirts of Kuwait City January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Stephanie McGehee

London- Robert Ford, the last US ambassador to Syria from 2011 to 2014, said that his country gave the Syrian people a “false hope” when US officials offered protesters and demonstrators promises that were not later met.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper from London, Ford said a visit he made to the Syrian city of Hama in June 2011 aimed to identify which side was first inciting violence.

“We received information that Hama was besieged and that the Syrian army surrounded the city. We were worried that violence could erupt during demonstrations staged the next day. I went on a Thursday to witness which party would incite violence,” he said.

His visit also carried a message to the Syrian regime that Washington was taking the matter in Hama very seriously.

However, Ford said that at the time of his visit, his country gave “false hope” to Syrian protesters who were convinced that Washington was going to support them and intervene military, at a time when the US was actually seeking a solution through negotiations. 

“At the end of 2013, I thought that the war would be hard on the regime, which will be forced to negotiate a deal” to form a coalition government with opposition forces and independent figures, the ambassador said.

He added: “My biggest mistake was that I did not expect Iran and Hezbollah to send thousands of fighters in support of (head of the Syrian regime Bashar) Assad.”

Ford, who had left Damascus in 2012, also said that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov deceived his US counterpart John Kerry during the chemical deal forged at the end of 2013, and that he was treating him like a child.

Following a fatal chemical attack in 2013, Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons under a deal brokered by Russia and the US when it joined the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. But, questions remained whether Damascus had then declared everything in its chemical weapon program.

Ford also said that Kurds would pay the heavy price for trusting the Americans, adding that the US Army was only using Kurds to fight ISIS. “Washington would not ask the US Army to defend West Kurdistan as an independent district in future Syria,” Ford said.