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Name: Ford, Robert
Current Position: Ambassador

On February 16, 2010, President Barack Obama announced his intention to nominate Robert Stephen Ford as the next U.S. ambassador to Syria. This was a significant gesture because the United States has been without such an official for five years, ever since the Bush administration broke off diplomatic relations with the Middle East country. Ford’s confirmation hearing was held on March 16, but his confirmation was blocked by Senate Republicans who disagree with the policy of reengaging the Syrian government. President Obama finally gave Ford a recess appointment on December 29.

Although the U.S. blamed Syria for the assassination of Lebanon’s prime minister, Rafik al-Hariri, Obama decided after taking office to begin rebuilding relations with officials in Damascus. With Ford, Syria would gets not only a career Foreign Service officer, but also one of the State Department’s top Arab specialists who has already served at other diplomatic posts in the Mideast and North Africa.
A native of Denver, Ford earned his bachelor’s degree in 1980 from Johns Hopkins University and his Master of Arts from the university’s School of Advanced International Studies in 1983.
After serving in the Peace Corps in Morocco, he joined the Foreign Service in 1985 as an economics officer. His early postings included Izmir, Turkey, Cairo, Egypt, Algiers, Algeria (1994-1997), and Yaounde, Cameroon.
From 2001-2004 he was deputy chief of mission in Bahrain, but he was sent to Iraq after the March 2003 U.S. invasion. He served first as the U.S. representative in the Shiite city of Najaf and then as political counselor to Ambassador John D. Negroponte in Baghdad. He remained in Iraq until June 2006.
President George W. Bush appointed Ford as ambassador to Algeria in May 2006 and he presented his credentials there on September 4. Then, it was back to Iraq in 2008, where he served as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy.
Ford speaks German, Turkish, French, and Arabic.
Ford’s wife, Alison Barkley, is also a US diplomat, and also served two tours in Iraq.
Robert S. Ford Biography (State Department)
Progress and Pain Marked Envoy's Tenure in Iraq (by Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times)
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