Robert Ford, the former US ambassador to Syria and a principled opponent of Bashar al-Assad, said he resigned his post because of frustration with the Obama administration’s failure to fully support the moderate opposition.
“Events on the ground were moving, and our policy wasn’t evolving very quickly. We were constantly behind the curve. And that’s why now we have extremist threats to our own country. We had a young man from Florida, apparently, who was involved in a suicide bombing, and there will be more problems like that, I fear.
“Our policy wasn’t evolving, and finally I got to the point where I could no longer defend it publicly. And as a professional career member of the U.S. diplomatic service, when I can no longer defend the policy in public, it is time for me to go.
“We have consistently been behind the curve.
“The events on the ground are moving more rapidly than our policy has been adapting. And at the same time, Russia and Iran have been driving this by increasing and steadily increasing, increasing massively, especially the Iranians, their support to the Syrian regime.
“And the result of that has been more threats to us in this ungoverned space which Assad can’t retake. We need and we have long needed to help moderates in the Syrian opposition with both weapons and other nonlethal assistance. Had we done that a couple of years ago, had we ramped it up, frankly, the al-Qaida groups that have been winning adherents would have been unable to compete with the moderates, who, frankly, we have much in common with.
“But the moderates have been fighting constantly with arms tied behind their backs, because they don’t have the same resources that either Assad does or the al-Qaida groups in Syria do.”
As to the fear of arms delivered to the moderates falling into the hands of extremists:
“To be very frank, we have plenty of information on reliable groups, and we have long had that. It is a question of whether or not there’s a will to actually help people whose agenda is compatible with our national security interests, and then to make a decision and push forward. And that really is the question before the administration.”