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Former U.S. ambassador to speak at UNH

Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria and Algeria Robert Ford will be speaking in Theatre II of the Memorial Union Building (MUB) from 12:40-2 p.m.  on Tuesday, Dec. 6.

Ford will also be the last speaker for the New Hampshire International Seminars’ fall series, “Migrations: Soldiers, Merchants and Refugees.” The talk that he will be giving is titled “Inside the Sausage Making Machine-Policymaking in Iraq and Syria.”

“The NH International Seminar is our signature lecture series,” UNH Global Initiatives Director Gregg Orifici said. “I work with the international affairs program chair and staff to bring nationally-known speakers to campus to create community-wide dialogue on critical global issues. This year’s series on migrations, merchants and refugees could not be timelier for its focus on issues of global importance.”

Ford served as the U.S. ambassador to Syria from 2011 to 2014, where he was an outspoken critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s human rights violations. Prior to this, Ford was the U.S. ambassador to Algeria from 2006 to 2008, and he also served in Iraq for five years, during which he helped establish the new government and its constitution. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Award in March 2014 by Secretary of State John Kerry, and is now a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C.

The focus of Ford’s speech will be on the current situation in Syria, the refugee crisis, the rise of the Islamic State group (IS) and the making of U.S. policy with regard to war-torn and post-war nations.

The event itself will begin with the introduction of Ford and his wife, Alison Barkley, who has also held various embassy professional roles abroad. After the introduction, Ford will speak for about 45 minutes, which will be followed by a facilitated Q&A session.

After the lecture, Ambassador Ford will be attending a political science class on the Middle-East from 3:10-4 p.m., where he will be answering questions about his life and work in the field of diplomatic service. Following this, he will be a part of a discussion panel on careers in the foreign service with his wife from 4-5:30 p.m. in room 307 of Horton Hall.

“Refugees, migration, [IS] and the civil war in Syria are some of the most pressing issues facing the global community,” Orifici said. “They were also key issues in the presidential election. Having such a notable expert with decades of diplomatic experience on campus is a rare opportunity for students and one they should not miss.”

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