Peter Ford (diplomat)

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Peter William Ford (born 27 June 1947)[1] is a retired British diplomat who was ambassador to Bahrain from 1999–2003 and to Syria from 2003–2006.[2][3]

Education and career[edit]

Ford was educated at Weston Point Community Primary School, Helsby Grammar School and The Queen's College, Oxford.[1]

Having finished his Arabic studies he worked in Beirut, Riyadh, Paris and Cairo before being appointed British ambassador to Bahrain as well as Syria from 2003-06.[4]

Retiring from the Diplomatic Service in 2006, he became Representative of the Commissioner-General of UNRWA in the Arab world.[5]

In February 2017, Ford became a Director of the British Syrian Society, alongside President Assad's father-in-law Dr Fawaz Akhras.[6]

Positions[edit]

In 2003, as ambassador to Bahrain, Ford says he sent critical memos to London before the Iraq War. Later, he regretted not to have been more outspoken. In his time in Damascus (2003-2006), he says he distanced himself more and more from the official policies.[7]

Since 2006, he has been criticised as a defender of the Assad regime in Syria. [8] In 2016, he suggested opposition forces were responsible for an attack on a UN humanitarian convoy in September 2016 which led to the deaths of 10 humanitarians. A UN panel of inquiry said the attack was conducted from the air, and only Syrian and Russian air forces were operating in the area. The UN panel stated "that it did not have evidence to conclude that the incident was a deliberate attack on a humanitarian target".[9][10]

He accused the British government of lies and political mistakes in Syria from the onstart of the uprising, thus aggravating the situation. He argued that Prime Minister David Cameron should have either committed British forces or refrained from encouraging opposition forces from mounting a campaign against the regime.[10] Ford believes that the British leaders expected an early end of Assad's regime and overestimated the strength of the moderate opposition, whom they did not provide with sufficient help.[10][3]

Ford argued that the fall of Assad would open a "Pandora's box", repeating the mistakes of Libya and Iraq. In his opinion, the fall of the Assad regime would lead to the massacres of Christians, Shias, Alawites, Druze and other minorities.[11]

On the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack, he commented to the BBC that "there [had] been no investigation.. not a dodgy dossier - we've not seen any dossier whatever this time".[12] Ford argued there was no proof of the Syrian government's involvement in the attack.[13][14] Subsequently the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) released its report on the April 4 chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun in July 2017. The OPCW concluded the attack used sarin, a nerve agent, or sarin-like substances, confirming what had been reported in May.[15]“The Syrian Arab Republic is responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Sheikhoun on 4 April 2017,” the report from the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) said.[16]

Ford participated in the EuroCE conference on the future of Syria from 5 to 6 April 2017 which was criticised by dissidents as pro-Assad, because among the speakers there were Syrian politicians and supporters of the Assad government.[17] At the conference Ford described the British policy as "incoherent and grotesque", and accused the British government of being among those in the front rank of destroying Syria. He added that following the Iraq War he had been under regular instructions to remonstrate with the Syrians over the flow of jihadis into Iraq, but said he understood the Syrian regime's point of view.[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ford, Peter William. ukwhoswho.com. Who's Who. 2014 (2014 online ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. Retrieved 9 October 2015.  closed access publication – behind paywall
  2. ^ Ford, Peter (7 April 2015). "Cameron's unthinking policy on Syria has fuelled the rise of British jihadism". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 April 2017. 
  3. ^ a b Peter Ford (interview) (9 April 2015). "'Moderates in Syria? Snowflake's chance in hell'". RT. Retrieved 13 January 2018. 
  4. ^ Ian Black Middle East editor (2015-04-07), "Former ambassador attacks Cameron's ‘arrogant’ Syria policy" (in German), The Guardian, ISSN 0261-3077, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/apr/07/former-ambassador-attacks-camerons-arrogant-syria-policy. Retrieved 2017-04-09, "Ford, 67, trained as an Arabist and served in Beirut, Riyadh, Paris and Cairo and was British ambassador to Bahrain as well as Syria from 2003-06." 
  5. ^ "Peter Ford". 
  6. ^ Verkaik, Robert; Ensor, Josie; Sawer, Patrick (22 April 2017). "Former UK ambassador linked to Assad lobby group". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 12 April 2018. 
  7. ^ "'Assad not mad' enough to use chemical weapons: Former UK ambassador" (in German), Middle East Eye, http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/assad-not-mad-use-chemical-weapons-says-former-uk-ambassador-326905858. Retrieved 2017-04-09 
  8. ^ British ambassador who defended Damascus 'works for Assad's father-in-law', Zaman Al Wasl 24 April 2017
  9. ^ "Summary of UN Headquarters 'Board of Inquiry' Report". 21 December 2016. 
  10. ^ a b c Wintour, Patrick (23 December 2016). "British policy has made situation in Syria worse, says former ambassador". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 April 2017. 
  11. ^ "David Cameron will have Christian 'blood on his hands' if he topples Assad, warns former Ambassador to Syria - The Diocese of Shrewsbury - The Diocese of Shrewsbury". Retrieved 2017-04-09. “The fall of the regime will be opening a Pandora’s Box such as we saw with the fall of Gaddafi in Libya and when Saddam Hussein fell.” He said: “Is this what David Cameron really wants, to open another Pandora’s Box? Does he not realise that the fall of the Assad regime would lead to the massacres of Christians, Shias, Alawites, Druze and other minorities? 
  12. ^ "10/04/2017, Newsnight - BBC Two". BBC. 
  13. ^ "Ex-UK ambassador to Syria: 'No proof' of chemical attack, Today - BBC Radio 4" (in German). Retrieved 2017-04-09. 
  14. ^ Manfred Kleber (2017-04-07), "Es wäre dumm von Assad, Giftgas einzusetzen" (in German), Berlin Journal, https://www.berlinjournal.biz/ex-botschafter-peter-ford-assad-giftgas/. Retrieved 2017-04-09 
  15. ^ "The Forgotten Chemical Attacks in Syria". 5 July 2017. 
  16. ^ Reuters syrian government to blame
  17. ^ "Controversial Syria conference is held a day after chemical attack" (in English), Mail Online, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4383042/Syria-conference-held-day-chemical-attack.html. Retrieved 2017-04-09 
  18. ^ "'Assad not mad' enough to use chemical weapons, says former UK ambassador". Middle East Eye.