The Observers Are The Greatest Threat To al-Assad

11 May 2012

By Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed

Only a few are betting on the success of the Blue Berets the United Nations [UN] monitors the first six of whom have arrived in the capital Damascus. However, the expected failure of their mission may prove to be al-Assad's Achilles Heel, as his familiar tricks of wasting time, procrastinating and deception which he has been practicing for more than a year will turn against him.

The international monitoring force is a small one, even after the full complement of 250 military and technical personnel arrive. This UN force will be familiar with the Syrian regime's history in dealing with monitors whether in Lebanon or Syria itself as well as the manner in which Damascus dealt with previous cases, such as the assassination of [Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik] Hariri and the subsequent UN investigation into this.

The monitors will have a thick dossier of pictures, maps, and information regarding what is happening on the ground; their mission is to authenticate this information, not reveal more [information]. Moreover the difference between the monitors previously dispatched by Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby and the UN monitors is that the Arab League delegation was led by Lieutenant General Mohammed Al-Dabi, a representative of Sudan's al-Bashir regime, which supports the al-Assad regime of Syria. Al-Dabi has also been accused of war crimes himself, particularly with regards to massacres committed in Darfur. On the other hand, the UN has sent a mixed-team, led by a Moroccan colonel, and made-up of professionals from amongst other UN monitoring teams.

The Syrian regime, which has become more confident and is ignoring international reactions to its crimes, may dare to threaten and perhaps harm the UN monitors, as it did with several Arab League monitors it viewed as opponents. This will lead al-Assad to fall into the international trap. Over the past eight years, al-Assad has been unsuccessfully trying to stop the investigation into Hariri's assassination. We knew, as soon as the first crime was committed, that he was behind the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister. He is also behind the numerous killings of various Lebanese figures, and he recently killed figures within the Syrian regime itself who had disagreed with him.

All of those involved in the investigation into Hariri's assassination have complained about being subject to threats and intimidation by the Syrian intelligence services. This started with Detlev Milhis, the courageous international investigator who defied the Syrians despite the campaign of lies against him. Al-Assad's intelligence services then went after Judge Daniel Bellemare and Belgian Judge Serge Brammertz; however this did not stop the investigation and the formation of the international tribunal. The Syrian regime also went after any Lebanese investigators and judges who dared cooperate with the international investigators. One such figure was forced to resign after suffering health problems and being hospitalized. The Syrian regime also dared to kill Lebanese investigators that had exposed the perpetrators.

Meddling in the work of the UN monitors would be a fatal mistake. They have come to Syria in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2042 that stipulates the dispatching of an international mission entrusted with assessing the situation on the ground in Syria. The resolution is clear and frank, stressing that the monitors must be allowed freedom of movement throughout the country. More importantly, the resolution threatens the al-Assad regime with "further steps" if Damascus fails to abide by its conditions.

We know that Al-Assad will fabricate charges against the revolutionaries and may even place the lives of the UN monitors at risk, using the pretext of "armed terrorists". However the international community is well aware of all these ploys, which have now been completely exposed. No matter how much it objects, Russia will not be able to protect al-Assad from the recent developments that may portend an international phase followed by decisions to protect the refugees and establish humanitarian corridors. The concerned countries will then be able to go to all the way.


Al Rashed is the general manager of Al -Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al- Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine, Al Majalla. He is also a senior Columnist in the daily newspapers of Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is a US post-graduate degree in mass communications. He has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.



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