The U.S. and French embassies in Syria were attacked by crowds of Assad “supporters” this morning. Syrian supporters were allegedly “slow to respond to the mob,” according to a Fox News report. Imagine that.
The protesters did some damage to the chancery building itself but no embassy staff were injured, according to the official.
Witnesses said the protesters smashed windows and raised a Syrian flag on the compound. They also wrote anti-U.S. graffiti referring to the U.S. ambassador as a “dog,” the witnesses said. The protests were over visits by the U.S. and French ambassadors last week to the opposition stronghold of Hama in central Syria.
I was under the impression an embassy is considered the native soil of the foreign power in question. That means a Syrian flag was raised over American soil. That seems like kind of a big deal.
What’s got this “unruly” crowd of “Assad supporters” so bent out of shape? Well, U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford visited the city of Hama, in the company of French ambassador Eric Chevallier. Hama is currently circled by Syrian tanks, and the guns are not pointing outward.
Assad’s father butchered between 10,000 and 20,000 civilians in Hama while suppressing the 1982 uprising. These days, his boy Bashar has been arresting people just for filming demonstrations. When Ford showed up, the people of Hama covered his vehicle with flowers and olive branches.
Ambassador Ford wrote about his visit, and subsequent demonstrations outside the U.S. Embassy, on the embassy’s Facebook page:
As I have said before, we respect the right of all Syrians – and people in all countries – to express their opinions freely and in a climate of mutual respect. We wish the Syrian government would do the same – and stop beating and shooting peaceful demonstrators.
I have not seen the police assault a “mnhebak” demonstration yet. I am glad – I want all Syrians to enjoy the right to demonstrate peacefully. On July 9 a “mnhebak” group threw rocks at our embassy, causing some damage. They resorted to violence, unlike the people in Hama, who have stayed peaceful. Go look at the Ba’ath or police headquarters in Hama – no damage that I saw.
Other protesters threw eggs and tomatoes at our embassy. If they cared about their fellow Syrians the protesters would stop throwing this food at us and donate it to those Syrians who don’t have enough to eat. And how ironic that the Syrian Government lets an anti-U.S. demonstration proceed freely while their security thugs beat down olive branch-carrying peaceful protesters elsewhere.
The people in Hama have been demonstrating peacefully for weeks. Yes, there is a general strike, but what caused it? The government security measures that killed protesters in Hama. In addition, the government began arresting people at night and without any kind of judicial warrant. Assad had promised in his last speech that there would be no more arrests without judicial process. Families in Hama told me of repeated cases where this was not the reality. And I saw no signs of armed gangs anywhere – not at any of the civilian street barricades we passed.
“Mnhebak” is a term for pro-Assad demonstrators. It translates to “we love you.”
The Associated Press reports that Ambassador Ford’s personal residence, which is not part of the embassy compound, was also vandalized. That is one of the dangers inherent in becoming an ambassador to a barbaric regime. Embassies are better suited to civilized nations.