Don’t shoot the messenger…

What does it mean to attack an ambassador of a superpower with
eggs, rocks and tomatoes? More importantly, who does it benefit? What does the
country gain from such aimless and fruitless attacks?

Does anyone believe that those who are attacking western
ambassadors are actually regular people acting spontaneously? Why don’t we see
people form the other camp (the demonstrators) attacking the Russian or Iranian
ambassadors?

In this article we will try to answer the aforementioned questions
through several quotes and comments by both international media and Syrian
spectators and eye witnesses.

Tareq Neman, Baladna

“The U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, was safe on Thursday
after being attacked by a pro-government group” a U.S. government official told
CNN.

“It was an attack by an armed mob and he is ok,” said the
official, who was not authorized to speak to the media and did not want to be
named.

Ford, who has been outspoken against what he calls ‘the Syrian regime’s
use of violence against protesters’, is seen by many pro-regimers as an
activist more than a diplomat.

Ford sparked a diplomatic firestorm in July when he traveled to the
restive city of Hama to express support for demonstrators. He was welcomed with
flowers by local residents there who had suffered a brutal crackdown by
government forces. President Bashar al-Assad’s government called the trip an
attempt to foment dissent.

Since then, Ford continued to be seen by some as more of a
provocateur than a traditional diplomat.

A crowd tried to assault Ford and embassy colleagues “as they
went about doing the normal work of any embassy,” State Department
spokesman Mark Toner said.

“The mob was violent; it tried, unsuccessfully, to attack
embassy personnel while they were inside several embassy vehicles, seriously
damaging the vehicles in the process,” Toner said.

Syrian security officers helped to secure the way back to the U.S.
Embassy for the ambassador and his staff.” According to cnn.com, while in
another newspaper they used the accusing way. It showed that the attackers were
legal and no one accused them, – this is bad-

“A tomato-hurling mob assaulted the U.S. ambassador to Syria and
several aides Thursday as they arrived for a meeting with an opposition leader;
an incident the State Department later said was deliberately staged by Syrian
officials.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sharply condemned the
attack on Ambassador Robert S. Ford, who U.S. officials say was trapped for
more than an hour when the mob besieged the Damascus office building where the
meeting occurred. No Americans were hurt, but several embassy cars were badly
damaged.

“This attempt to intimidate our diplomats through violence is
wholly unjustified,” Clinton told reporters at a Washington news conference. A
formal complaint was lodged with the government of Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad, who Clinton said must “take every possible step to protect our
diplomats.” says the Washington post.


“Pro-government
supporters trapped U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford in the Damascus office of a
Syrian opposition figure, reportedly taking aim at the diplomat as he tried to
leave with tomatoes and other projectiles. Reuters news agency reports that two
U.S. vehicles sustained damage as the angry crowd surrounded the home or office
of moderate politician Hassan Abdelazim, who has demanded an end to President
Bashar al-Assad’s brutal crackdown on opposition demonstrations. An eyewitness
in Damascus tells CBS News’ George Baghdadi that he saw Ford eventually leave
the house, but U.S. officials at the Embassy would not comment on the
Ambassador’s current location or condition. There was no indication he had been
injured. Abdelazim later confirmed to the Associated Press that Ford did come
under attack outside his office in the Syrian capital.” According to Elfagr
newspaper on its website.


An
eyewitness in Afif, the old quarter of the capital where the American Embassy
is located, said that demonstrators tore down embassy plaques and tried to
break security glass. The witness, who declined to be identified because of the
delicacy of the situation, said the protesters traveled to the embassy in four
buses, and that some of them were armed.


“In
a post on his Facebook page, the American ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford,
said the attack on his convoy was more violent than previously reported. The
attackers threw “concrete blocks at the windows and hit the cars with iron
bars,” Mr. Ford wrote. On Thursday, many news sites, including The Leadership,
reported that the ambassador’s car had been set upon by protesters with eggs
and tomatoes. “Look at the photos of the U.S. Embassy vehicles; eggs and
tomatoes do not do such damage,” he wrote on his Facebook page.


A
Syrian protester at the French embassy said, “I want to send a message to
France specifically, and to Sarkozy and the ambassador who interfered in our
affairs and went to Hama without permission from the Syrian Foreign Ministry. This
is wrong. That goes for the American ambassador too.”


France
also accused Syrian forces of being too slow to respond, and demanded the
government abide by its international obligations, to protect diplomatic
missions and allow envoys freedom of movement.


Men
dressed in riot gear and security officers appeared to do nothing to restrain
the crowds at the US embassy. At the French embassy, witnesses said shots were
fired into the air to disperse the attacks. US ambassador Robert Ford’s
residence also came under attack. Earlier, Addounia, a TV station close to the
regime, had called on people to send the ambassador a message.


Washington
and Paris condemned the attacks. The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton,
said: “We demand [Syria] meet their international responsibilities
immediately to protect all diplomats and the property of all countries.” the guardian
newspaper issued.

 

It wasn’t spontaneous


“By
analyzing the way the attackers gathered , and noting that they were all
holding the same pictures you will discover the fact that nothing was
spontaneous” Rafeek Ahmad, 52 years old, said,
“how on earth did they know that the ambassador is visiting the lawyer,
how did they manage to buy eggs and tomatoes so fast?” he concluded.


“Why don’t they deal with protesters with
tomato and eggs? I demand police men and the security forces to deal with the
demonstrators with eggs and tomato if they think it has a magical influence in
fixing the Brocken things. This is madness; I can’t believe that we (the
Syrians) accept not to treat and hospitalize our guests the right way, even if
they did something wrong this is not the way to solve problems.” Says
Abdoulhakem.


“Assaulting diplomats is bad and shameful, it
contradicts with the conventions and international norms, it contradicts with our
Arabian habits of hospitality and generosity, we all believe that the American
ambassador’s stances are against the dreams of the Arabs, but the ambassador
himself is just a messenger; he adopts and executes his mission according to
the policy of his country, he is an employee, no more, no less. What we
witnessed in the last two months is not acceptable by any means; we should
respect them and push them to respect us. They will defend us, and help us but
we should make ourselves understandable first.” Says a young man who wished to
remain anonymous.

Syrians are so passionate, they understand that they have to choose
the right and suitable reactions to keep their country away from what happened
in Libya, most of them know that dealing with foreign diplomats should be done so
carefully and must give the right picture of the Syrian to the whole world,
some, however do not agree with this point of view: “I don’t care, what they
say about Syria, I believe in Syria and I will destroy the whole world to keep
it safe, we love the president and he loves Syria so we will fight anyone to protect
him –the president- and protect Syria. I am asking USA, and France and their
Ambassadors to leave Syria immediately; we will keep attacking them if they
continue to conspire on Syria. Attacking the Ambassadors with eggs and tomatoes
has bothered them! They should thank God that we didn’t use anything else.” Haydara,
25 years old, engineer and shabeeh (pro-government militant) said.

On the other side of Damascus (the areas of the majority of the
anti-regime) they don’t care about the whole story, all they need is to
demonstrate and to make their voices louder, Says M, a demonstrator, he is a
well-dressed man who talks in a very low and calm voice: “I want them both (the
regime and the foreign diplomats) to listen to me; I don’t care about the cars
of the embassy or the one they hit by the car, I want them to respect my
demands, this Hollywood movie will not convince a baby, how the hell is it
supposed to convince the smart politicians around the world? I believe that they
has been pushed by the government, the government has told them when and where
to go in order to distort the image of the demonstrates by saying that they are
spies and executing an American agenda, But as an educated man I am telling
everybody that this is an uncivilized way to tell somebody the he is not
welcomed in Syria and we all know who wants to isolate Syria.”

It is obvious that such an impulsive action will deliver the wrong message
about the wise judgment of those who decide what is right and what is wrong for
Syria, people cannot believe anything or everything. While asking the people in
the area whether attacking the diplomat is write or wrong and why, someone
shouted: “Are you crazy? They pushed the people to do that, it is very wrong to
do such a thing, I have the proof that the government knew about it before,” he
was too angry of news reporters and their silly questions: “Why didn’t they arrest
them as they do here, I don’t think that such a demonstration is acceptable in
the Syrian law according to the new legislative. They ordered them to do it. We
are happy about such an attack too because it shows the wrong way they deal
with problems and the way they use to control freedom in order to kill it.”

In the regime-supporters area the image is quite different: “He
deserves it, no one conspires against Syria and escapes, they want to destroy
our country so they will pay the price, actually I am surprised, why are you
paying attention to such things, it is only a symbolic massage to the
administration of USA to keep clean and to stay away from Syria, they will
never change the president and will never ever harm the Syrians, we don’t care for
the whole world, Syrians are under heavy attacks by the imperialism  around the world and we should do whatever it
takes to stop the attack and to teach them how to interact with Syria Al-Assad.”
One very enthusiastic man said!

Lion cubs

Khaldoun Abaas, a real estate office owner said: “We are the descendants of the
eternal leader Hafez al-Assad (may GOD honor his face), and the children of His
Majesty, Mr. President Bashar al-Assad, may God protect him, will prove to the
world that we are the heart of Syria al-Assad and we are not traitors or agents
for Israel and America and will pledge allegiance to Bashar, attacking embassies
is the right way to keep the ambassadors inside it and to limit their moves, I
support such demonstrations and I wish I were there, foreign people will
understand the reason behind such attacks and will thank us at the right time ”

Syrian society is a very educated and successful society, it does
have all what it needs to form a good dialogue team, says Tareq Sabagh, a high
school teacher: “We all know that the Americans are the killers of the Indians
in old America, they killed the people in Vietnam , Iraq, Afghanistan, they
deserve more. However, as a diplomatic action I don’t approve attacking
embassies because it is a protected territory and should be respected, if not; the
whole world will never respect us anymore. It will distort the bright image of Syria.”

In diplomacy science embassies were found to keep the relations
between two countries warm and to keep the diplomatic channels between
countries open, to avoid the one side judgments and to avoid unnecessary wars. If
we play with such channels we might destroy them or distort them and might lose
the chance to stop a war before it begins. Keep the hair between us and the rest of the world, you don’t know when you will need it.

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