Podcast: "A Conversation with Robert Ford on Iraq and Syria"

October 30, 2014

An audio recording from Robert S. Ford, former US Ambassador to Syria (2011-2014) and Algeria (2006-2008). He is currently a resident scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C. and teaches at Johns Hopkins University on Middle East politics.

On October 29, 2014 at MEI, Ambassador Ford reflected on his 4½ years working for the U.S. Mission in Iraq and 3 years working on Syria, in a talk moderated by Kennedy School professor and former State Department colleague Nicholas Burns. He examined the roots of the unrest in Iraq and Syria that spawned the Syrian civil war and the rise of the Islamic State straddling across the two countries' borders. He also assessed international efforts to date to contain what has become one conflict and suggested signposts to determine if our next steps and our strategy will work or not. In his talk he touched on the refugee crisis and humanitarian response, U.S. politics and strategy, and the hope of soft power in the search for long term solutions.

Also included in the playlist are two question and answer dialogues from moderator Nicholas Burns to Ambassador Ford.

Listen to the full recording of the October 29, 2014 event here:

Click here to view photos of this event on the Middle East Initiative Facebook page.

About Ambassador Robert S. Ford:

Ambassador Robert S. Ford served thirty years in the State Department and Peace Corps, finishing his career as the U.S. Ambassador to Syria from 2011 to 2014. For his leadership of the American Embassy in Damascus he received a Presidential Honor award, and for his work on Syria he received the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award, the U.S. Department of State’s highest award. For his stout defense of human rights in Syria, in 2012 he received from the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston the annual Profile in Courage award.

Ford also served as the U.S. Ambassador to Algeria (2006-2008) where he boosted bilateral cooperation in fields such as education and the rule of law.

He served three times in Iraq between 2003 and 2010, including as the Ambassador’s senior political advisor during the tumultuous elections and stand-up of the new, permanent Iraqi government 2004-2006. Later, as Deputy Ambassador in Iraq 2008-2010 he assembled a government team that devised the logistical and security plans the new Obama administration used to establish our diplomatic posts in Iraq now.

As Deputy Ambassador in Bahrain 2001-2003 Ford led the Embassy team that helped negotiate the free trade agreement with Bahrain, the first U.S. free trade deal with a Persian Gulf state. Ford also served in Cameroon, in Algeria 1994-1997 during the civil war there, in Egypt and Turkey and in domestic assignments at the U.S. Department of State in Washington. He started his career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco. He speaks fluent Arabic and French. Ford has a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.

Ford is now a resident scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington and teaches at Johns Hopkins University. He has appeared on CNN, PBS, Fox News, NPR, the BBC and Arab networks. His wife, Alison Barkley, is also a Foreign Service Officer, and they make their home in Baltimore where they are avid fans of local theater, classical music and the Baltimore Orioles.

For more information on this publication: Please contact Middle East Initiative
For Academic Citation:Podcast: "A Conversation with Robert Ford on Iraq and Syria".” News, , October 30, 2014.