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Discord among Arab monitors as Russia warns of Syria intervention

Al-Akhbar, AFP | January 12, 2012

Head of the Arab League’s observer mission in Syria, Sudanese General Mustafa al-Dabi, branded as “baseless” claims by former monitor Algerian Anwar Malek that the Syrian regime was committing crimes against humanity.

On Wednesday, Malek told Doha-based Al Jazeera that he had quit the mission and accused the Syrian regime of committing a series of war crimes against its people and of duping his colleagues.

But Dabi said that Malek had barely left his hotel room when deployed in Homs.

“What observer Anwar Malek said on a satellite television is baseless,” General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, former head of Sudanese military intelligence, who leads the operations in Syria, said in a statement.

“Malek was deployed to Homs among a team, but for six days he did not leave his room and did not join members of the team on the ground, pretending he was sick,” Dabi said in the statement.

He echoed remarks by an unnamed Arab League official who said Malek was bedridden throughout his assignment in Homs and his accusations are unfounded.

“What I saw was a humanitarian disaster. The regime isn’t committing one war crime but a series of crimes against its people,” the Algerian observer told Al Jazeera.

“The mission was a farce and the observers have been fooled. The regime orchestrated it and fabricated most of what we saw to stop the Arab League from taking action against the regime,” Malek said.

According to Dabi, the Algerian monitor requested leave for medical treatment in Paris but departed before waiting for the green light.

An Arab League official noted that two monitors quit the mission, an Algerian (Malek) and a Sudanese, and claimed Malek left “for health reasons,” while the Sudanese “was returning to his country for personal reasons.”

“Two monitors have excused themselves, an Algerian and a Sudanese,” Syria operations chief Adnan Khodeir said at Arab League headquarters in Cairo.

Russia warns of Libya-repeat

Russian Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev warned that NATO and Gulf Arab states are plotting to intervene militarily in Syria along the lines of the Libya intervention that eventually ousted Muammar Gaddafi.

“There is information that NATO members and some Arab states of the Persian Gulf, acting in line with the scenario seen in Libya, intend to turn the current interference with Syrian affairs into a direct military intervention,” he said in an interview published on the website of the daily Kommersant.

“The main strike forces will be supplied not by France, Britain, and Italy, but possibly by neighboring Turkey.”

Washington and Ankara may already be working on plans for a no-fly zone to enable armed Syrian rebel units to build up, he said.

Similar fears were echoed by opposition figure Haytham al-Manna of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria (NCB), who told Al-Akhbar two weeks ago that Gulf Arab states “might turn Syria into a battleground against Iran.”

Manna stressed Syrian revolutionaries “refuse to become the victims of a war by proxy.”

Patrushev’s comments come as Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani met with US Vice President Joe Biden at the White House on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing violence in Syria.

The pair “condemned the ongoing violence in Syria perpetrated by the Assad regime and noted the significance of the Arab League observer mission’s final report due on January 19,” the White House said.

The Arab League has come under fire for its observer mission from opposition groups and Syrian President Bashar Assad, both claiming the regional body is ineffective.

Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood accused the Arab monitors of “covering up” government crimes, while Assad also lambasted the League for bias against the regime in his speech on Tuesday.

But China expressed empathy with the Arab League, saying the regional body faced “difficulties” in monitoring the violence in Syria.

“The Syrian government and other Syrian parties should provide suitable conditions to allow the observers to carry out their work,” Wu Sike, China’s envoy to the Middle East, told reporters after meeting Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi in Cairo on Thursday.

Wu voiced regret for attacks in the past few days targeting observers in Syria.

“We hope that the observers will be patient and will pursue their efforts until they achieve their goal for the sake of Syria and its people,” he added, when asked about reports that some monitors had quit the mission.

Two Kuwaiti monitors and one observer from the Arab League were slightly wounded in an attack on their convoy in Latakia on Monday.

An Arab League official on Wednesday said the trio suffered “minor cuts” when protesters broke the window of their vehicle.

Inquiry demanded over journalist death

Meanwhile, the Syrian National Council (SNC) – a main umbrella opposition organization that includes the Muslim Brotherhood as well as secular activists – accused the regime of killing French journalist Gilles Jacquier in Homs on Wednesday.

The SNC denounced the “murder” of Jacquier, saying in a statement it was a “dangerous sign that the authorities have decided to physically liquidate journalists in an attempt to silence neutral and independent media.”

Accounts of violence are difficult to verify as foreign journalists are not permitted to freely cover the crisis in Syria, but Mazen Darwich of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Speech told Al-Akhbar that it was unclear who was behind the attack.

Jacquier’s death, the first foreign journalist killed since the uprising began in Syria last March, occurred as he was covering a pro-regime rally in the Akramah neighborhood of Homs when RPGs fell on the crowd, killing nine in total, Darwich said.

A Belgian journalist, Steven Visner, was also critically wounded.

France demanded an inquiry into Jacquier’s death.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a statement that “France expects the Syrian authorities to shed light on the death of a man who was simply doing his job: reporting.”

British Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the attack, saying the “deaths highlight once again the terrible price being paid by the people of Homs, as well as the courage of journalists who take great personal risks to bring to light what is happening to the people of Syria.”

And EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton joined global press watchdog Reporters Without Borders in demanding a rapid inquiry.

The latest UN figures from mid-December have the death toll at over 5,000 since the Syrian uprising began last March.

Damascus has released its own figures, however, contending that 2,000 security personnel have been killed by armed groups.

January 12, 2012 - Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering

4 Comments

  1. […] Discord among Arab monitors as Russia warns of Syria intervention (alethonews.wordpress.com) […]

    Pingback by Syria’s Al Assad Digs In Against Opponents « WesternDefenseStudiesInstitute | January 12, 2012

  2. Clearly the author wishes to muddy the issue over the death of the French journalist.
    A preamble of gratuitous accusations by the self-proclaimed SNC precedes the “known” facts.
    The reporter was covering a pro Assad (anti imperialistic ? anti come and bomb us for democracy?) rally. The preamble would have us believe that “possibly” the Syrian army or “pro Assad” supporters attacked their own rally???? which lead to his death.
    If speculation is in order It would be much more plausible to guess that the hired assassins based chiefly in Turkey and Jordan and funded by NATO and company are at the root of this particular evil.

    AFP never the mere details of truth get in the way of the story they wish to tell us..

    Comment by redracam | January 13, 2012

    • redracam,

      I think that Al Akhbar was just giving the AFP some rope by using their cited allegations, it’s a writing style. They retell the nonsense narrative and then drop the facts the contradict it and let the reader decide.

      Comment by aletho | January 13, 2012

  3. […] Discord among Arab monitors as Russia warns of Syria intervention (alethonews.wordpress.com) […]

    Pingback by Saudi Arabia to recognize, fund SNC; Russia rejects Syria resolution « MasterAdrian's Weblog | January 27, 2012


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