Robert S. Ford is currently a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, where he writes about developments in the Levant and North Africa. From 2011 to 2014, he served as the U.S. Ambassador to Syria, after which he retired from the U.S. Foreign Service. In this role, he was the State Department lead on Syria, proposing and implementing policy and developing common strategies with European and Middle Eastern allies to try to resolve the Syria conflict. Prior to this, he was Deputy U.S. Ambassador to Iraq (2008-2010); U.S. Ambassador to Algeria (2006-2008); Deputy Chief of Mission in Bahrain (2001-2004); and Political Counselor to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad (2004-2006), during the tumultuous establishment of the new, permanent Iraqi government. Ford received the Secretary’s Service Award, the U.S. State Department’s highest honor, in 2014, and the John F. Kennedy Library’s Profile in Courage Award, for his stout defense of human rights in Syria, in 2012.