Saturday, February 11, 2012

Armed resistance and the Syrian dilemmas II

A Syrian oil train was derailed by an explosion on 15 January 2012. (SANA)

More food for thought on Syria: Many things have been said about the Arab League observer mission, but strangely enough the official report of this mission was not really brought into the open by the League, let alone by Western powers. Below are some excerpts. And from them it is not too difficult to grasp why it was suppressed. The picture that arises from it is rather different from what we were used to read in most accounts by the press.
Divisions within the Arab League about the path to be taken must have been the reason why it was kept somewhere in a drawer - the Saudis who are in favor of taking the toughest possible line against Assad will hardly have been pleased with its content. While others, who were aware that it's not only a question of  a regime butchering its subjects but that the situation is more complex, were inclined to seek ways to find a negotiated solution.
The full report is worth reading - it can be found here.  

 The excerpts are followed by fragments of an interview that the Tunisian blog Nawaat held with a Tunisian former member of the observer force, Ahmed Manaï. He was happy with the Russian- Chinese veto (it spared Syria the sort of Iraq and Libya), but foremost he is extremely critical of the way the Arab League handled the matter.

26. In Homs and Dera‘a, the Mission observed armed groups committing acts of violence against
Government forces, resulting in death and injury among their ranks. In certain situations, Government forces
responded to attacks against their personnel with force. The observers noted that some of the armed groups
were using flares and armour-piercing projectiles.
27. In Homs, Idlib and Hama, the Observer Mission witnessed acts of violence being committed against
Government forces and civilians that resulted in several deaths and injuries. Examples of those acts include the bombing of a civilian bus, killing eight persons and injuring others, including women and children, and the
bombing of a train carrying diesel oil. In another incident in Homs, a police bus was blown up, killing two
police officers. A fuel pipeline and some small bridges were also bombed.
28. The Mission noted that many parties falsely reported that explosions or violence had occurred in
several locations. When the observers went to those locations, they found that those reports were unfounded.
29. The Mission also noted that, according to its teams in the field, the media exaggerated the nature of the
incidents and the number of persons killed in incidents and protests in certain towns.

44. In Homs, a French journalist who worked for the France 2 channel was killed and a Belgian journalist
was injured. The Government and opposition accused each other of being responsible for the incident, and both sides issued statements of condemnation. The Government formed an investigative committee in order to determine the cause of the incident. It should be noted that Mission reports from Homs indicate that the French journalist was killed by opposition mortar shells.

74. In some cities, the Mission sensed the extreme tension, oppression and injustice from which the Syrian
people are suffering. However, the citizens believe the crisis should be resolved peacefully through Arab
mediation alone, without international intervention. Doing so would allow them to live in peace and complete
the reform process and bring about the change they desire. The Mission was informed by the opposition,
particularly in Dar‘a, Homs, Hama and Idlib, that some of its members had taken up arms in response to the
suffering of the Syrian people as a result of the regime’s oppression and tyranny; corruption, which affects all
sectors of society; the use of torture by the security agencies; and human rights violations.
 Arab observers in action (EPA).

 And here is part of Nawaat's interview:
Nawaat: By continuing to work with the Syrian regime and the divided Syrian opposition, the Arab League seems to believe in a possible ‘political solution’ to the Syrian crisis, in a way President Bashar Al-Assad delegates his powers to Vice President to form, within two months, a government of national unity that would lead the country to free elections.
The Sino-Russian veto blocks the resolution, what kind of pressure you feel is necessary to get   Bashar Al Assad on his knees?

AM: The Arab League is entirely discredited by burying the report of its own observers’ mission and its appeal to the Security Council. It missed the opportunity to participate in the settlement of the Syrian affair. All it can offer in the future will be worthless.
Now it’s Russia’s turn to play the lead role but also to the Syrian leadership required to accelerate and implement the reforms.

Nawaat: In your opinion, what is the true weight of the CNS (pro military intervention) and the National Coordinating Committee for Democratic Change (against intervention and which is rarely we hear from it in the international media)?

AM: The CNS does not have a good reputation in Syria precisely because it calls for armed intervention. The Syrians have a long tradition of patriotism and a high history of resistance to foreign domination. By cons, abroad, it is a media darling and favorite partner of politicians, who support and finance.
Besides the CNS does not have representatives inside the country and one of its components, the Kurds, has just left it.
It’s different in the case of the Coordination Committee, because its representatives are almost all activists within the country, and have no spokesman abroad, Haytham Manna. It is quite normal that we do not speak of this Committee in the propaganda and disinformation’s Medias that support the intervention.

Nawaat: How do you assess the actions taken by deserters from the Syrian army? Do you have evidence to prove that the Free Syrian Army (FSA) commits acts of barbarism?

AM: The report of on the Arab observers’ mission reported the existence of FSA and other armed groups who attack governmental forces, carry out the abduction of civilians who are released only against payment of ransom, murder, sabotage oil facilities, civil buildings, trains and railways…

Nawaat: Last question: can we be for or against the regime of Bashar Al Assad and the Syrian president himself?

AM: Those who believe that the departure of a president would solve all the problems of the country, are simply idiots. We were unable to learn from the examples of Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen and agree that the aftermath of dictatorship are often harder to manage than the dictatorship itself because oppositions have not yet learned to govern!

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