Sources are reporting that the new American ambassador to Damascus will be Robert Ford, former ambassador to Algeria and current deputy ambassador to Iraq.
It’s funny: I was having tea with an NPR journalist yesterday afternoon and we were remarking on the fact that we still have no inkling of what the Obama Administration’s Syria policy is. For all we know, there is no policy… especially if they can’t decide whether or not to appoint an ambassador to Syria. Well, maybe I was wrong.
In other news, there seems to have been some confusion regarding the identity of one Ali Tajeddine who was a victim on the tragic Ethiopian Airlines crash last week. Some have suggested that this was the wealthy Shiite businessman by the same name whose purchases of land north of the Litani caused some controversy back in 2007. Here’s an excerpt from a piece by Nick Blanford in the Christian Science Monitor from back then:
For the past year, Ali Tajiddine, a Shiite businessman who traded diamonds in West Africa before branching into property development and construction, has been snapping up vast tracts of land in the district from impoverished Christian and Druze property holders.
Walid Jumblatt, leader of Lebanon’s Druze and arch foe of Hizbullah, says that the land is being purchased with Iranian funds delivered to Hizbullah and disbursed by Tajiddine. Tajiddine’s connections to Hizbullah are widely known locally in south Lebanon. One of his relatives was arrested in Antwerp, Belgium, in May 2003 in a case involving diamonds from West Africa and suspected money laundering on behalf of Hizbullah.
(For more conspiracy theories involving real estate, Jumblatt, and Hizbullah, see here.)
Anyway, the point of bringing all of this up is to say that the Ali Tajeddine killed on the Ethiopian Airlines crash was not the same Ali Tajeddine who was buying up land. According to the Lebanese National News Agency, the crash victim was born on March 4, 1979, which would have made him almost 31 years old. A journalist friend of mine who has interviewed the businessman Ali Tajeddine tells me that he is definitely older than 31, so it’s not the same guy.