When the Arab Spring finally reached Syria I was ecstatic. I had never thought that I will ever be able to dream of a Syria free of oppression and tyranny. Throughout the past ten months I watched as the Syrian people braved death daily to protest for their cause as Assad’s forces committed daily massacres to suppress these protests and maintain their grip on power.
I also watched as the Arab League failed to contain Assad’s death machine while making a mockery of the League. At first, for four months, you tried pretending the Syrian people didn’t exist. Then on July 13 your Secretary-General announced from Damascus, “Syria has entered a new era and is now moving on the road of a genuine reform.” At the same time security forces were killing people just kilometers away in Damascus’ suburbs.
On November 2 your efforts resulted in an agreement with the Assad regime to end the violence within 15 days. It is now almost two months since the agreement was signed and the regime continues to perpetrate atrocities while the Arab League’s best efforts have failed to stop it.
The Syrian people would like you be honest with them.
We’re tired of your pathetic efforts to stop the regime’s violence. We’re sick of your empty statements that do nothing to stop the bloodshed. We’re shocked at your lack of respect for Syrian lives. The false hope you gave us killed us.
You sent monitors to verify that Assad has complied with the Arab League plan. They arrived in Syria more than a month after the deadline you gave Assad had passed. Now that they have been on the job for almost a month we’re hearing comments from your end that they need financing and training. Did neither of these occur to you in the weeks you spent negotiating with the regime?
On the first day of the mission the monitors visited Baba Amro, a neighborhood of Homs that had witnessed a brutal campaign by the regime that saw entire buildings bombed to rubble. The monitors refused to tour the side streets in fear for their own safety. The next day, the chief monitor, Mohammad Al-Dabi told Reuters that he saw “nothing frightening” in Homs. If there was nothing frightening, why did he tell the residents he can’t risk visiting their neighborhoods?
A delegation of monitors visiting Latakia was shot at and eleven of its members were injured. You told the press that “unknown protesters” opened fire on them. What use are monitors if they can’t tell who’s shooting at them?
You sent a suspected war criminal to monitor the war crimes of another war criminal. Al-Dabi was caught lying several times. He said armored vehicles had been withdrawn. Activists published videos showing monitors standing next to tank. He said that the monitor who resigned, Anwar Malek, had never gone on tour. Activists again published videos showing Mr. Malek on tour. How can trust be established when lies are the basis of the monitors’ mission?
Throughout the mission the Assad regime has been using its media to utterly humiliate the Arab League and its monitors. They have launched a campaign labelling the Arab League as the Hebrew League. The campaign also involved personal attacks on the League’s Secretary-General and its current president. State media lobs insults at the Arab League and its constituents in every newscast. They’ve gone as far as producing propaganda spots and dedicating entire talk shows to humiliating you. Have you no dignity?
Now we are hearing that the monitors’ mission may be extended for another month. Al-Dabi told the media that the “mission will continue in its current mandate.” We haven’t missed that the Syrian Foreign Ministry had made the same exact comment. Just exactly how many months does it take to verify if the regime is complying with the November 2 plan?
The decisions so far have been based on the premise that Assad will eventually comply with your plan to stop the violence. This premise is severely flawed. The regime-perpetrated violence has only increased since the Arab League involved itself in Syria’s crisis. In his speech, Assad clearly stated that the military campaign will go on.
All Syrians will be watching what happens at your meeting this coming Sunday. Your failure so far, coupled with your ill-advised statements, have left Syrian activists wondering if you are just buying time for Assad to complete his military campaign.
We’ll be watching your meeting on Sunday closely. We’re hoping to see you take tough decisions that will help put an end to Assad’s savage campaign. We cannot put up with more weak decisions, extensions, and delays while our children are being brutally murdered and our women are being gang-raped. Your very integrity as an institution relies on being clear with the Syrian people. We expect you to help an Arab country of 23 million people.
Your working plan for Syria has failed with catastrophic consequences. The violence continues. Tens of thousands are still detained. Your efforts have yielded nothing of substantial significance. The Syrian people need you to stop pretending you are doing something and rather actually do something to help. And if you can’t, there’s no shame in admitting your limitations.