The Hill reports:
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) called on President Obama to recall the U.S.’s ambassador to Syria while criticizing his handling of the unrest there.
Pawlenty, who is expected to run against Obama, said the president’s decision to restore America’s ambassador last year legitimized the regime of dictator Bashar Assad, which has used violence to tamp down anti-government protests there.
“I would recall our ambassador,” Pawlenty said on the conservative Hugh Hewitt Show. “President Obama made the mistake of sending an ambassador to Syria, legitimizing that country and his regime in ways that I don’t think are appropriate. Recall the ambassador.”
President George W. Bush recalled the U.S. ambassador in Syria in Feb. 2005 amid accusations the country was involved in the assassination of Lebanese President Rafik Hariri. Obama filled the vacancy in December in an effort to improve relations with the country and incorporate it in the Israeli-Arab peace process. Pawlenty said that approach is flawed.
“It’s a crock. It’s a complete crock. And it shows the naivete of the Obama administration,” he said. “To have his administration essentially being embracing in any manner or degree Bashar Assad and Syria as a peace agent – or an agent for reform and stability in the region – is either ignorant or frighteningly misguided.”