Arab monitors buy time for Assad: Syria opposition
Syrian opposition figures said on Monday the presence of the Arab League monitoring mission in Syria was only giving authorities more time to crush their opponents with violence.
The League observers, who began work on the ground two weeks ago, have so far failed to stop the suppression of protests against President Bashar al-Assad in which the United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed in 10 months.
After a review meeting in Cairo on Sunday, the Arab League said the government had only partly implemented a pledge to stop the bloodshed, free detainees and withdraw troops from cities.
Adnan Khodeir, head of the monitors’ operations room in the Egyptian capital, said more observers would reach Syria this week, bringing the team’s strength to 200 from 165 now.
“The initial report is too vague, and it essentially buys the regime more time,” said Rima Fleihan, a member of the Syrian National Council, a leading opposition group in exile.
“We need to know what the League will do if the regime continues its crackdown in the presence of the monitors. At one point it needs to refer Syria to the U.N. Security Council.”
The Arab League appears divided over whether to take such a step, which in the case of Libya led to foreign military intervention that helped rebels topple Muammar Gaddafi.
Russia and China have opposed any Security Council move on Syria, while Western powers hostile to Assad have so far shown little appetite for Libya-style intervention in a country that sits in a far more combustible area of the Middle East.
Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister of neighboring Turkey, said on Monday his country was threatened by the conflict and should take a leading role in dousing it.
“The situation in Syria is heading towards a religious, sectarian, racial war, and this needs to be prevented,” he told a news conference in Ankara.
Syria’s official news agency said Assad would make a speech on Tuesday about “internal issues and international and regional developments”, without giving details.