Questioning the Arab League's Syrian Monitors
Violence continued in Syria on Thursday despite the arrival of the Arab League's monitors, and now the appointed leader of the monitors is being called into question over his own spotty human rights record.
Violence continued in Syria on Thursday despite the arrival of the Arab League's monitors, and now the appointed leader of the monitors is being called into question over his own spotty human rights record. Sudan's General Mustafa al-Dabi is the leader of the 100 or so Arab League monitors in Syria right now. Al-Dabi has been accused of committing war crimes in Darfur in the 1990s. From this report in the Guardian, Amnesty International has spoken out against al-Dabi's participation, saying, "The Arab League's decision to appoint as the head of the observer mission a Sudanese general on whose watch severe human rights violations were committed in Sudan risks undermining the League's efforts so far and seriously calls into question the mission's credibility."
Most of the controversy came after comments al-Dabi reportedly made after a recent visit to the "restive" city of Homs. Al-Dabi was quoted as saying the situation there is "reassuring," when there have been reports of protests and violence coming from the city. "Some places looked a bit of a mess but there was nothing frightening," he said, according to the BBC. Some were discouraged by his comments, but Russia, Syria's most high-profile ally, came out in support of al-Dabi's statements. The Russian government gave a statement on their website, and quoted by Reuters, saying, "Judging by the public statements made by the chief of the mission (Sudanese general Mustafa) al-Dabi, who in the first of his visits went to the city of Homs ... the situation seems to be reassuring."
Even al-Dabi is backing away from those initial assessments now, though. He told Reuters that reports of his statements, "were "unfounded and not true" a mission statement said, and all future statements would be in writing." After prayer protests were expected to continue Friday, with as many as 250,000 people protesting in and around the Northern city of Idlib. If that doesn't get the attention of the monitors, nothing will.