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Syria: Saudi observer blasts al-Dabi’s report | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – A Saudi Arabian observer, who was a member of the Arab League delegation sent to monitor the situation in Syria, stressed the futility of the Arab League delegation remaining in the country, and criticized the delegation’s final report – put forward by head of the Arab League observer’s mission to Syria, General Mohammed al-Dabi – to the Arab League in Cairo on Sunday. Al-Dabi asked the Arab League for additional time to allow the delegation of monitors to complete its duties.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Saudi Shura Council member Dr. Ibrahim Suleiman, who was part of the Arab League mission to observe the situation in Syria, stressed that the withdrawal of Saudi monitors from the Arab League delegation – as announced by Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal – is in the interests of the Syrian people.

He added that the Saudi Foreign Minister had sent the Saudi message, and that “it is not right that we should be false witnesses to what is happening in Syria.”

Dr. Suleiman, who is also a member of the Saudi National Society for Human Rights, also called on General al-Dabi to clarify some of his comments on the presence of explosions, violence, and armed fighters in Syria. The Saudi observer said “what does he [al-Dabi] mean by explosions? When he speaks about the presence of violence…who is the source of this violence? Who are the armed fighters that he mentioned in the [Arab League] report?”

The final report submitted by General al-Dabi to the Arab League ministerial committee on the Syrian crisis claimed that both sides – the government and the opposition – were responsible for the violence taking place in Syria. Al-Dabi told a news conference in Cairo that “we have reported 136 cases of killing…and they include both sides, opposition and the government, and include the recent explosions.” The UN has previously stated that at least 400 people have been killed following the arrival of the Arab League monitors to Syria, whilst opposition groups place this number closer to 700 dead.

The Saudi observer condemned al-Dabi’s report regarding the issue of Syrian detainees being granted freedom, as well as the presence of media outlets on the ground. Dr. Suleiman told Asharq Al-Awsat that the reports about Syrian detainees being freed in Hama and the surrounding areas were false. He stressed that he was responsible for monitoring Hama and the surrounding area, and that “no detainee or prisoner was freed from this area.”

He said “the information indicates that there are a large number of detainees, and these are from various sources, including opposition sources. This information talks about 16,000 detainees, or 12,000 detainees…but these figures require more scrutiny” adding “we are still working on this via the Syrian authorities, opposition, and humanitarian organizations.”

In addition to this, the Saudi monitor, who sent his own report to al-Dabi before leaving Syria, also questioned al-Dabi’s claims that media outlets are present on the Syrian scene. He said “in Hama, with the exception of two Syrian media outlets, al-Rai TV and Hayat TV…there was not one [other] media outlet.”

Dr. Suleiman added “I do not know where al-Dabi got his figures from [regarding the presence of media outlets in Syria]” adding “perhaps he meant the number of media outlets present in Damascus [not Syria as a whole].”

General al-Dabi had claimed that the Syrian government had granted authorization to approximately 147 media outlets to operate in Syria, with 112 media outlets being physically present in Syria, and 90 media outlets sending reporters. Al-Dabi said “we monitored and detected 36 media outlets working in Syria, and we received some complaints from some media outlets about the length of the license [they had been granted to operate in Syria], and we spoke with the Syrian authorities and they have been responding to this issue.”

Dr. Suleiman expressed surprise at General al-Dabi’s statement that the Arab League monitors’ committee did not have sufficient time to complete its mission, asking “what does al-Dabi want? What does he mean by sufficient time?”

He also expressed surprise at al-Dabi’s request for the Arab League delegation of monitors to be granted additional time in Syria, as well as more technical and logistical support. Dr. Suleiman asked: how could al-Dabi put forward a final report [on the situation in Syria] to the Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby when the delegation lacks the necessary technical and logistical support, according to al-Dabi’s own request.

Dr. Suleiman added “under such circumstances, namely the absence of the necessary technical and logistical support, it would have been better for al-Dabi to refuse to put forward any report until the required support was present.”

For his part, another Saudi observer in Syria, Dr. Abdulrahman al-Enad, who is currently present in the northern Syrian city of Qamishli told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the Saudi observers will soon return to Saudi Arabia [from Syria].” He declined to comment on General al-Dabi’s report to the Arab League.