Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

General, go back to Khartoum! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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“Perplexing” is the simplest description regarding the selection of a Sudanese General affiliated to President Omar al-Bashir, who is accused of being responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in his own country and against his own people, to head the Arab League’s delegation of monitors to Syria. These accusations [against al-Bashir] were not only made by the International Criminal Court [ICC] but the Sudanese people themselves.

General Mustafa al-Dabi, head of the Arab League’s observer mission to Syria, previously headed Sudan’s Military Intelligence Agency, during a period of time in Sudan that was far from rosy. Indeed it was al-Bashir himself who nominated al-Dabi to the Arab League, which then obtained Syrian approval for his appointment!

It was Omar Ismail, a member of the anti-genocide ‘Enough Project” – affiliated to the Center for American Progress – who described the selection of al-Dabi as “perplexing”. According to the BBC, Ismail said “instead of heading a team entrusted with a probe of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity by Syria, the general should be investigated by the ICC for evidence of similar crimes in Sudan.”

It is widely known that the al-Assad regime gambled on Omar al-Bashir’s Sudan taking Syria’s side when the Arab League was considering an Arab boycott against it, given the fact that the two countries enjoy friendly relations and that they both belong to the camp of resistance [against Israel]. More than this, it is likely that al-Assad considers both regimes to be regionally and internationally isolated, and therefore the “unexpected” Sudanese approval of the Arab League’s Qatari-backed initiative regarding a package of “formal” sanctions against Damascus came as a surprise to the al-Assad regime. Therefore, the appointment of General al-Dabi as head of the Arab League’s delegation of monitors is a form of compensation [to the al-Assad regime].

No sooner had al-Dabi’s team, which was warmly applauded by Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby, arrived in Damascus than Al Qaeda, out of the blue, decided to carry out an attack, with twin car bombs in Damascus and Aleppo.

The al-Dabi team rushed to the site of the bombings, not to Homs, Idlib, Jisr al-Shughour, Jabal al-Zawiya, Deraa, Deir az-Zour, or other areas where the al-Assad regime is suppressing unarmed Syrian protesters. This team was formed, in the first place, to investigate and examine the situation in these areas, not to pursue the regime’s traditional “theatre” of security plots, as they excel at this game, which is something that we have seen in Lebanon and Iraq.

After overcoming their initial shyness, the team of Arab League monitors traveled to Homs, where al-Dabi – as we all saw on television – marched here and there, listening indifferently to the Homs residents’ appeal to him to take the delegation and visit the scene of the crime in the Baba Amr neighborhood. We saw him listen to the chants of the Syrians, and the wailing of the Syrian women who had lost husbands and sons, and throughout all this he appeared astonishingly indifferent and apathetic.

An eye-witness, an observer or a judge is supposed to be above suspicion. However a general who is a friend of Omar al-Bashir’s and who was previously head of Sudanese Military Intelligence, but is nevertheless assigned to impartially investigate crimes against humanity, will of course be an object of suspicion. Therefore, there can be no doubt that his appointment certainly is “perplexing”.

So we say, General al-Dabi, go back to Sudan and investigate and observe the murders and the forcible displacements there, instead of being applauded for assisting the murders of people in Homs, Hamah, Deraa, and Jabal al-Zawiya.