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Middle East

Some Arab observers in Syria ‘for pleasure'

Text by Marc DAOU

Latest update : 2012-02-02

Some of the Arab league observers were more concerned about getting nice hotel rooms and visiting the capital Damascus than reporting objectively on the deteriorating security situation in Syria, according to the head of the mission.

Some members of the Arab League Observer Mission sent to Syria in late December 2011 to monitor the deteriorating security situation behaved as though they were on holidays, according to a damning appraisal by the head of the mission.

“Regrettably, some observers thought that their mission in Syria was for pleasure,” wrote Sudanese General Mohamed al-Dabi in a summary of the visit by the 166 observers, leaked on Wednesday.
One Arab diplomat in Paris, who asked to remain anonymous, told FRANCE 24 the report “borders on the grotesque and highlights the amateurism of the Arab League, which was grossly unprepared for its mission.”
The scathing appraisal, tucked away towards the end of the report (from paragraph 45), added that “in some instances, experts who were nominated were not qualified for the job, did not have prior experience and were not able to shoulder the responsibility.”
Al-Dabi went on to say there was a lack of basic skills among the observers, which hindered their ability to do the job.
“Some … are old, and some suffer health conditions that prevented them from fulfilling their duties,” he wrote. “Some observers underestimated the burden of their responsibility with which they were entrusted and the importance of giving the Arab interest precedence over personal interests.”
The Sudanese General added that some observers working in areas outside the capital had “demanded accommodation comparable to those granted to their counterparts in Damascus, or equal financial compensation as a result of the ratings of the hotels in which they were accommodated.”
“Absent this [sic], they requested to stay in Damascus … a fact that does not even warrant a comment.”
The report also mentions 22 observers who cancelled the mission for personal reasons “while others used flimsy pretexts that were not accepted by the Chief of Mission.”

Al-Dabi concluded by praising the majority of the observers, and recommended that “certain shortcomings” should be corrected by deploying 100 supplementary observers made up of younger men “with military experience” to be equipped with armoured cars, bullet-proof vests and night-vision goggles.

The Arab League mission in Syria was suspended on January 28 following an escalation of violence.
The mission, which began in late December 2011, was heavily criticised by Arab and international NGOs, as well as the Syrian opposition, for failing to implement a draft peace deal to end the bloodshed that has marred Syria for the last 10 months.


Date created : 2012-02-02


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