Arab League in Syria: A Mission of Amateurs
Just as their mission begins, Arab League observers are already in danger of losing their credibility in Syria. Their comments about the situation in the opposition stronghold of Homs seemed dismissive to the insurgents. And that’s not the only mistake already made during the important visit.
The information emerging about the visit of Arab League observers to Syria is alarming — but not because they plan to pointedly pursue the accusations against the regime of President Bashar Assad. Instead, it’s because the first statements made by its leader, Sudanese Lt. Gen. Mustafa al-Dabi, are scandalous.
Speaking in the insurgent stronghold of Homs, he said that some areas looked “a bit of a mess,” but otherwise he’d seen “nothing frightening”
While Dabi also said the mission to Syria would require more time, the fatal aspect of his statement is that it sounds dismissive, even if perhaps that’s not how it was meant, even if the observers didn’t witness a massacre that day, and even if he was trying to acknowledge the regime’s promised withdrawal of the military from the area.
His statements set off alarm bells for parts of the Syrian opposition. They fear that Assad will be whitewashed, or that the regime in Damascus will be able to lead the observers only to places where no human rights violations are apparent. It seems inconceivable that the Arab League has praised Dabi for his diplomatic experience. This is exactly the kind of situation where making light of things should be avoided.