US President Barack Obama has used a legal loophole to push through his nomination for US Ambassador to Syria.
He named Robert Ford as the man he wanted to send to Damascus shortly after becoming president in 2009. But Republican senators have repeatedly refused to ratify the nomination, claiming it would send the wrong signals to Syria.
But during recess, Obama is allowed to force through the nomination using presidential decree. Ford will remain in post until December 2011 under these rules.
Many Syria watchers questioned the Republican knee-jerk reaction, arguing that sending an ambassador was not a reward, but simply the most basic tool of diplomacy.
Syria has not hosted a US ambassador since 2005. The previous ambassador, Margaret Scobey, was withdrawn by George Bush 48 hours after the Hariri assassination, in retaliation for the killing which America blamed on Syria.