US Ambassadors to Syria, Russia Both Leaving

Robert Ford, Michael McFaul will be gone by the end of the month
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 4, 2014 3:36 PM CST
U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul arrives at Foreign Ministry headquarters in Moscow on May 15, 2013.   (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)
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(Newser) – By the end of the month, the Obama administration will have lost its top diplomats in two of its most important posts. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford and Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul both announced their impending resignations today, the AP reports. Here's what you should know about each:


  • Ford is retiring by the end of the month, the State Department confirmed. Ford has been instrumental in the administration's oft-troubled negotiations in Syria, and in attempting to unite its disparate rebel groups.
  • A career diplomat and fluent speaker of Arabic, he was expected to land the Egypt gig, but sources tell the Washington Post that Egypt's rulers have taken the unusual step of nixing that idea. "Robert Ford has not been nominated for a new position. Beyond that, we don't have any comment," a National Security Council spokeswoman said.
  • McFaul is widely credited as the man behind the effort to "reset" US-Russian relations, and helped design the New Start treaty, the New York Times reports. But relations with Russia have been cratering over the past two years, and Russian media has lambasted him for meeting with opposition politicians.
  • McFaul will be leaving his post "soon after" the Sochi Olympics, he said in a blog post written in both Russian and English. He wrote that he was leaving Russia "reluctantly" but wanted to be closer to his family. "We tried to make a 9,000-kilometer commute work for our family," he said, but "it's time for us to be reunited." He'll return to his longtime gig as a professor at Stanford, the Post reports.

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