DIPLOMATIC TIT FOR TAT
The United States and Syria this week engaged in a diplomatic showdown that resulted in Washington and Damascus recalling their ambassadors, as tensions increased over Syria’s bloody assault on unarmed demonstrators.
Syrian state-owned television on Monday announced that President Bashar Assad summoned Ambassador Imad Moustapha to return to Damascus, shortly after the State Department announced the recall of Ambassador Robert Ford because of threats against his life.
Mr. Moustapha has been Syria’s ambassador in Washington since 2005 and has fiercely defended the Assad regime’s crackdown on anti-government protests since demonstrations erupted in March. The United Nations says Syrian forces have killed about 3,000 unarmed civilians in the demonstrations.
“Syria is presently facing unprecedented challenges and, at the same time, opportunities for democracy, peace, prosperity and hope,” he said. “The events under way since March remain far more complex than what the international media has portrayed.”
“No government in the world, including the United states, would tolerate an armed insurrection, regardless of the motive,” Mr. Moustapha said.
The ambassador also denied that Syria has any contacts with Mohamad Soueid, a Syrian-American arrested earlier this month in Northern Virginia on charges of spying on Syrians in the United States who oppose the Assad regime.
The ambassador returned to Washington because of “credible threats against his personal safety” in Syria, said department spokesman Mark Toner.
Mr. Ford, a career diplomat who arrived in Damascus in January, has publicly denounced the killings of protesters. He also has angered the Assad regime by visiting demonstrators in flash-point cities.
The chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee questioned President Obama’s decision to send troops to Uganda as she opened a hearing Tuesday on the U.S. mission to support the African nation’s fight against a brutal rebel army.
“We need clarity on the rules of engagement, the mission parameters and the definition of success, as well as how U.S. military presence in Central Africa furthers U.S. national security interests,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Mr. Obama cited a law he signed last year as his authority for sending 100 military advisers to help Uganda in its war against the Lord’s Resistance Army, one of Africa’s most savage guerrilla movements.
Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen noted that it “murders, mutilates, tortures, rapes and loots with impunity.”
“But we are not here today to determine whether Joseph Kony is evil. We know he is,” she said.
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James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...
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