POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 2, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 2:03 a.m. HST, Oct 2, 2011
BEIRUT (AP) — U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford should stop meddling in Syrian affairs if he wants to avoid more 'rotten eggs' attacks in the future, a state-run Syrian newspaper warned on Sunday.
The Al Baath newspaper, a mouthpiece of the Syrian regime, accused Ford of supporting armed anti-government groups in Syria and said his meddling will not be tolerated.
Supporters of President Bashar Assad on Thursday pelted Ford — an outspoken critic of the Syrian regime's brutal crackdown on the country's six-month-old uprising — with eggs as he visited a prominent Syrian opposition figure in Damascus. He was trapped in the office for about three hours by the hostile pro-government protesters outside until Syrian security forces arrived to escort him out.
"If you want to avoid rotten eggs, you should advise your country to stop its blatant interference in Syrian affairs and its feverish efforts to seek sanctions against Syria from the U.N. Security Council," the newspaper said.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the White House said the assault was part of a campaign to intimidate diplomats looking into the Assad's government's brutal repression of pro-reform demonstrators. The Obama administration summoned Syria's ambassador in Washington to hear formal U.S. condemnation of the assault.
In comments posted on the embassy's Facebook page, Ford said Thursday's attack was not limited to eggs and tomatoes.
"Protesters threw concrete blocks at the windows and hit the cars with iron bars. One person jumped on the hood of the car, tried to kick in the windshield and then jumped on the roof," Ford wrote.
"Is that peaceful? I'd call it intolerant if not worse."
Al Baath newspaper said Ford should expect further "unpleasant treatment" as long as his country meddles in Syrian affairs.
"As long as the (U.S.) ambassador believes that diplomacy is the art of instigation against national regimes, he should anticipate unpleasant treatment," it said.
Ford has angered the Syrian regime in past months by visiting a couple of the protest centers outside of Damascus in a show of solidarity with the anti-government uprising. The latest incident could further raise tensions between Washington and Damascus, which has accused the United States of helping incite violence in Syria. In August, Obama demanded Assad resign, saying he had lost his legitimacy as a ruler.
Tension between the West and Syria — Iran's closest Arab ally — has been rising for months.
Washington and the European Union have imposed sanctions on some Syrian officials, including Assad, because of his crackdown that has left some 2,700 people dead, according to the United Nations.
Zeina Karam can be reached on http://twitter.com/zkaram