Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Why is al-Assad suddenly eager for the Arab observers? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Anyone following al-Assad’s official news agency will be amazed at the volume of news condemning the Arab League decision to suspend the Arab observer mission in Syria; although the al-Assad regime previously delayed its approval of such a move, eventually signing the Arab protocol late, having originally claimed the proposal to be a violation of Syria’s sovereignty. So why is the al-Assad regime now clinging to the Arab observer mission?

Immediately after the Arab League announced its suspension of the observer mission in Syria, the al-Assad regime rushed to issue a statement from an official source, saying that Damascus “is both disappointed and surprised by the decision of the Secretary General of the Arab League, Nabil el-Araby, to end the Arab observer mission after Syria had agreed to extend its work for another month”. The source added that the Arab League’s decision was “a prelude to the Security Council meeting next Tuesday, at the request of Qatar and the Arab League Secretary General to negatively influence and pressurize the negotiations that will take place there, in an attempt to call for outside interference in Syria’s internal affairs”. Then the source said that Damascus “remains committed to the success of the Arab observer mission, and ensures its protection”.

Two things are clear from the above statement; firstly the al-Assad regime wants the observers to remain as false witnesses and provide cover during the latest escalation of its security campaign, which is what Walid Moallem talked about in his last press conference, calling it a “popular demand”, as if the Syrians themselves are calling on the al-Assad regime to oppress and murder them. Thus, in all naivety, we find that the al-Assad regime today siding with the Arab observer mission, rather than the Syrian opposition! The al-Assad regime also believes that the presence of Arab observers serves as another cover to strengthen the Russian stance in its defense, so as to say that the Syrian regime is still committed to the decisions of the Arab League!

The second thing that is evident from the official source’s statement is that the regime is genuinely concerned about the upcoming battle in the Security Council, and whether the Security Council will adopt the Arab initiative. Nabil el-Araby returned to this issue recently, confirming that the initiative is similar to the Yemen solution, where a German news agency quoted him as saying: “the Arab initiative talks about the Syrian regime going peacefully, it is an integrated initiative similar to that used to resolve the situation in Yemen”. Therefore the al-Assad regime is sensing the coming danger, and specifically what the Security Council will do. Therefore, the regime hopes to impose a security solution quickly on the ground, under the cover of the Arab observer delegation. This method is nothing new to the al-Assad regime; it has used this approach over the last ten years, whether in Lebanon or Iraq, or earlier in Syria itself. The al-Assad regime is well practiced in the art of making promises and then avoiding them, as evidenced by its acceptance of each initiative, whatever the circumstances, and then emptying the agreements of their contents, rendering them as useless formalities. So I say good luck to everyone, and bad luck to the al-Assad regime. All tricks have been exhausted, and now is the time for those responsible to be held to account.