Alhurra Interviews Robert Ford, U.S. Ambassador to Syria
(Springfield, Va.)— The U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford was interviewed by Alhurra Television. During the interview, he addressed Vice President Joe Biden’s meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the head of the Syrian National Council’s proposal for talks with the Assad regime and the Israeli raid on Syria. The following are excerpts of his interview (all excerpts have been translated from Arabic):
Vice President Joe Biden’s meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
Vice President Biden will ask Foreign Minister Lavrov for Russian assistance in the political process and in the formation of a transitional government. At the same time we understand the stance of the [Syrian National] Coalition as declared by its spokesperson, Waleed Albuni, that negotiations must result in the departure of Bashar Al Assad and then the formation of a transitional government. This is not the American stance; this is the stance of the opposition and we understand that we need to deal with this reality. I think Vice President Biden wants to take advantage of Sergei Lavrov’s attendance at the conference in Munich to discuss with him multiple issues and the Syrian issue is one of the most important issues for discussion.
Moaz al-Khatib Proposal for talks between the Syrian Opposition and the Assad Regime
With regards to prisoners, for a long time, we, the Americans, criticized the Syrian regime’s arrest of any persons either because they are wanted or as a method of intimidation of their relatives and families for different purposes. We condemn the arrest of thousands of people. With regards to negotiations, our stance has been clear for a long time: we support a political solution. We understand that the opposition refuses the participation of Bashar Al Assad in any transitional government. Therefore, the international community should take in its consideration the fact that the opposition refuses the participation of Bashar Al Assad. We see that a political solution will bring the conflict to end and it will ultimately decrease bloodshed. Bloodshed in Syria now is a horrible thing. If a political solution could stop bloodshed, it would be better…We prefer a political solution but at the same time we observe the advancement of the Free Syrian Army on the ground. For example, the fall of Teftenaz base almost two weeks ago, the advancement of the opposition (fighters) in the Eastern part of the country, in Deir Azzur, their advancement close to the Turkish borders, and their advancement close to the Iraqi border, etc. We hope there will be a political solution but if a transitional government is not formed with the acceptance of the opposition, I believe the military mission will continue.
Israeli Raid and Syrian Threats to Counterattack
The American stance regarding transporting weapons from Syria to Hezbollah is long known. But more important than threats to the Syrian regime and Hezbollah is the fact that the Syrian regime’s time is limited. The days of the regime are numbered. They should start real negotiations to form a transitional government and to facilitate Bashar Al Assad stepping down.
The Message to the Syrian People
The international community and the Americans did not forget the Syrian people in these difficult times. We, the Americans, allocated an additional 155 million dollars in humanitarian relief and we will direct it inside Syria through different channels. We currently send flour to Aleppo to help because of the food problem there. I hope the Syrian people understand that the Americans and the international community stand by their side during these difficult circumstances.
According to international research firms such as ACNielsen, Alhurra has a weekly reach of more than 20 million people. Alhurra is operated by the non-profit corporation “The Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc.” (MBN). MBN is financed by the U.S. Government through a grant from the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), an independent federal agency. The BBG provides oversight and serves as a firewall to protect the professional independence and integrity of the broadcasters.
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