In politics, patience is a virtue — at least for Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria.

Ford, who received a recess appointment last winter after Republicans withheld support for his confirmation, was confirmed at last by the Senate late Monday, roughly 18 months after he was nominated for the post by President Obama. His recess appointment would have expired at the end of the year.

As the first U.S. ambassador to Syria since 2005, Ford has won praise in Washington for his outspoken criticism of the the Syrian government and its crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators. He’s traveled outside Damascus to show his support for the protesters, at times in defiance of government restrictions. He’s also engaged with opposition groups and been a strong voice for the administration as it has hardened its stance against President Bashar al-Assad.

All of which has proved enough for Republicans initially opposed to his confirmation — on the grounds that sending an envoy to Syria would provide a measure of legitimacy to the government — to relent.

Ford was confirmed by unanimous consent.

The approval was somewhat unusual for the Senate. It’s rare for an ambassador posted on a recess appointment to get confirmed.