By José Ignacio Torreblanca, Associate Professor of IE School of Arts & Humanities

The scandalous complacency with the Syrian regime shown by the Arab League’s observation mission has an upside: it points to the awakening of a culture of human rights protection in an international organization that has always stood for contempt for democracy and human rights, and in parallel for rejection of any foreign interference.

The profile of the mission chief could hardly be more unfortunate. He is Mustafa al-Dabi, ex head of military intelligence for the Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir — who, remember, has an International Criminal Court arrest warrant against him for his role in the Darfur genocide. If there is anyone, the human rights organizations say, who has shown that using the army to repress the civilian population is legitimate, then General Dabi is certainly that person.

Bashar al-Assad’s blindness is such that he has not even profited from the opportunity afforded by a chief observer so biased in his favor. His government has not only ignored the promises previously made to the League, but has gone on intensely repressing Syrians. Doing so not only in presence of the observers, who have personally witnessed the terror and brutality with which the regime treats citizens who protest, but also for the first time in the presence of international news media, which have shown the world, and especially the Arab world, a reality that the Syrian regime denied, or masked with talk about foreign or jihadist plots. The Arab League’s mission has again shown the associated governments’ reluctance to oppose a member state, and to back democracy and human rights. True, in the past the League was little more than an instrument for condemning Israel.

If there was any regional bloc in the world where democracy was more the exception than the rule, that was the 22-state Arab League. At the end of 2010, just before last spring’s events, only three (Kuwait, Morocco and Lebanon) of the 17 League countries traditionally considered Arab could be termed “partially free,” while the remaining 14 were “not free,” according to the criteria and terminology used by Freedom House. In other words, some 88 percent of the region’s people lacked freedom. But the revolts of 2011 have obliged the Arab League to begin a process of apprenticeship and reinvention. Read more…

As published in www.ecfr.eu on January 11, 2012 (this blog post first appeared in El Pais in Spanish).


Ismail Kandil January 15, 2012 - 4:41 pm

The Arab League does not have the authority, power, funding, or enjoy the unity to take drastic measures against Assad regime. Up to my knowledge they have condemed the killing of civilians and pressed economic sanctions against Syria. I do not think that “scandalous complacency” is fair to describe the Arab league. I would have been more enlightened if you where able to recommend an action plan to solve the situation instead of only criticizing.

Rejecting foreign interference is a natural byproduct after we have witnessed recent examples like Iraq and Afganistan, and many others I am sure you are aware of if we go back in time. Any foreign interference will lead to a rise of armed resistence and give a way to extremists to gain popularity, and we all know what happens next suicide bombs, road side bombs, and more civilian death.

Syria could be a regional struggle now, if the stiuation escalates and force is used to try and sucumb the Assad regime, either by regional or international force, we can witness the direct involvment of Iran and then the region can go up in flames.

Having said this, i think that the taking of civilian lifes anywhere is unacceptable and should be stopped however the region is very unstable and therefore insighting the use of force to solve the issue will only lead to further destruction and killing.

clavier May 21, 2012 - 5:19 pm

I do consider all of the concepts you’ve offered on your post. They’re really convincing and can definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are too brief for novices. Could you please extend them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.

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