More Arab monitors likely to quit Syria
Beirut, January 12, 2012
Several Arab League monitors have left Syria or may do so soon because the mission has failed to halt President Bashar Al-Assad's violent crackdown on a popular revolt against his rule, an Algerian former monitor said.
Observers have not ventured out on tours of restive areas since 11 of them were injured by pro-Assad demonstrators in the port of Latakia on Monday, an attack which also sidelined plans to expand the team. A League official had said they would resume work on Thursday once new safety measures were in place in agreement with Syrian authorities.
Syrian opposition groups say the monitors, who deployed on Dec. 26 to check whether Syria was respecting an Arab peace plan, have only bought Assad more time to crush protests that erupted in March, inspired by Arab uprisings elsewhere.
Anwar Malek, an Algerian who quit the monitoring team this week, said many of his former colleagues shared his chagrin.
"I cannot specify a number, but many. When you talk to them their anger is clear," he told Reuters by telephone, adding that many could not leave because of orders from their governments.
He said a Moroccan legal specialist, an aid worker from Djibouti and an Egyptian had also left the mission.
Their departures could not immediately be confirmed. But another monitor, who asked not to be named, told Reuters he planned to leave Syria on Friday. "The mission does not serve the citizens," he said. "It doesn't serve anything."
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said Syria had only implemented parts of the agreement it had signed. "Neither the violence has stopped, nor the killing. The level has dropped, but it has not stopped," he told al-Hayat television. - Reuters