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Under the microscope
by Editorial | Dec 21,2011 | 23:21
Damascus has finally accepted the Arab League’s initiative to have monitors visit the country and ascertain facts, but only after the organisation accepted some of its conditions.
The Syrian requests were presented as “clarifications”, when in fact they are more than that. The Syrian government insisted on having any observers entering the country “coordinate” with the Syrian authorities, rather than allowing them instant free and unimpeded access to various locations.
Syria also wanted the mandate of the observers to be limited in time, and it got away with that.
There is fear that the qualified Syrian consent to the Arab League’s plan of action could make a mockery of it at the end of the day.
There is little doubt that Russian pressure has a lot to do with Syria accepting to go along with the Arab initiative. Moscow has recently submitted a new draft resolution to the UN Security Council that condemns all forms of violence perpetrated in Syria, highlighting, at the same time, the disproportionate use of force to quell the uprising.
A final assessment of the full import of the belated, and hesitant, Syrian decision to play along with the Arab initiative may take long to make. The Syrian position will have to be tested before it can be decided whether it is serious about changing the deadly course it is following.
Now the Arab League must ensure that its observers are professional and of impeccable integrity. They must act objectively and neutrally if they are to be credible. Selecting them has to be done in coordination with the opposition which is leading the uprising and which must have a say on who will investigate the cases of human rights violation.
At the same time, observers must be free to move around in the country even if restrained by the Syrian requirement that they coordinate the way they conduct their mission with the appropriate Syrian officials.
Once the monitors conclude their work, this Arab nation may be able to decide its next step.
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