Leading article: Alarming signs of a whitewash in Syria

Share
Related Topics

The Arab League monitoring mission in Syria is in danger of descending into bloody farce.

The 60-strong delegation is there to oversee a peace plan, to which the regime has nominally agreed, requiring troops and heavy weapons to be withdrawn from Syrian cities. But far from quelling the violence that has claimed more than 5,000 lives since March, the first week of the month-long visit has seen an escalation in tension, which culminated in clashes between government forces and tens of thousands of demonstrators yesterday.

That the violence has increased is, in itself, no indictment of the observers. Protesters have taken to the streets in greater numbers precisely because the foreign team is there, in the hope of either provoking a repressive response from the government, or of passing unmolested and so drawing more people to their banners. Rather more alarming are the complaints that the observers' movements are restricted by the security services, that there has been limited engagement with protesters, and that civilians have been shot in cities even while monitors were visiting them. Such criticisms require immediate answers if the integrity of the mission is to be maintained.

Most disturbing of all, however, are the comments from General Mustafa al-Dabi, the head of the delegation, describing the situation in Homs as "reassuring" even as film footage surfaced that appeared to show his monitors witnessing heavy gunfire and civilian casualties.

The Sudanese general was a controversial appointment from the start. As a former military intelligence chief and loyalist of Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir – who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide in Darfur – General Dabi was a questionable choice to head an investigation into human-rights abuses. His performance so far has done nothing to allay the concerns.

The general's supporters may argue that his more recent career monitoring the Darfur ceasefire makes him exactly the man for the job. But even the most sympathetic reading of his past cannot deflect the many distracting questions his selection raises – not least how far it signals an Arab League desire that its monitors not find anything contentious.

Unless General Dabi is replaced and the Arab League mission put on a footing more clearly independent of the Assad regime, it will forfeit all credibility. And with Syrians losing their lives at the hands of their government on a daily basis, an international whitewash is not just immoral but actively counterproductive.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Yvette Cooper campaigning in London at the launch of Labour’s women’s manifesto  

I want the Labour Party to lead a revolution in family support

Yvette Cooper
Liz Kendall  

Labour leadership contest: 'Moderniser' is just a vague and overused label

Steve Richards
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine