Arab League monitors in Syria inspect 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Arab League monitors are only giving Syrian authorities more time to crack down
on opponents, opposition figures said Monday after the League opted to keep the
mission in place despite Syria’s failure to comply fully with an Arab peace
After a meeting in Cairo to review progress, the Arab League said
the government had only partly implemented a pledge to stop the repression, free
detainees and withdraw troops from cities. It said it would add more monitors to
the 165-strong team, ignoring calls to pull the plug on what critics say is a
futile effort that provides a fig leaf for Assad to suppress
Arab League stops short of turning to UN on Syria
'Mideast governments fail to see scale of change'
“I never expected anything good from the Arab League, so it’s
not a real disappointment,” a US-based Syrian journalist told The Jerusalem
Post. “Anyone watching the League’s actions over the past 10 months knows it’s
not interested in helping Syria, but only in appearing to be carrying out its
“All Arab countries are dictatorships – who are we
kidding?” he said.
“Why would they want a neighboring dictatorship to be
toppled? It would spread like wildfire... These dictators are threatened by the
Arab Spring. They don’t want this to reach their countries.”
Fleihan, a member of the Syrian National Council, a leading opposition group in
exile, said the initial Arab League report “is too vague, and it essentially
buys the regime more time.”
“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 UN Security Council,” she said.
observers, whose mission began two weeks ago, have failed to stop a crackdown on
protests against President Bashar Assad in which the UN says more than 5,000
people have been killed in 10 months.
The Arab League appears reluctant
to defer the matter to the UN Security Council, which in the case of Libya led
to foreign military intervention that helped rebels topple Muammar
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.
“The costs and risks are too high,” Aram
Nerguizian, a visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International
Studies, told the Post. “The risks of unintended consequences to neighboring
states like Israel, Jordan and Lebanon are critical – the parallel with Libya
just doesn’t stand.”
Nonetheless, Syrian opposition factions are
increasingly calling for foreign intervention. On Monday details emerged that a
deal between the two main opposition factions had collapsed, apparently
signaling that voices calling for intervention to topple Assad have gained the
upper hand over those rejecting it.
Ten days ago Burhan Ghalioun, head of
the mostly exiled Syrian National Council (SNC), signed an accord with the
mainly Syrian-based National Coordination Body (NCB) outlining a transition to a
democratic post-Assad Syria.
The agreement rejected “any military
intervention that harms the sovereignty or stability of the country,” while
leaving the door open for an Arab role to stop Assad’s crackdown.
members of Ghalioun’s own council denounced the deal, forcing him to disavow it.
Many grassroots protesters inside Syria also rejected it, saying they had lost
hope that 10 months of peaceful demonstrations – now accompanied by an armed
insurgency in some regions – would bring down Assad.
“The paper has been
canceled after pressure from members of the council. Some threatened to
resign,” SNC member Khaled Kamal said.
“Ghalioun signed it without the
knowledge of council members, so after consultation he withdrew his
Kamal said many SNC members had originally shared the NCB’s
rejection of an intervention such as a no-fly zone or buffer zone to protect
civilians. “But now all roads are blocked and the political solution did not
work,” he said.
“After 10 months and after we knocked on all doors...
foreign intervention is the only choice before us,” he said, adding that the SNC
would begin a campaign to get recognition as the only opposition group
representing the mass demonstrations.
Opposition leaders meeting in
Istanbul on Monday reinstalled Ghalioun as head of the SNC.