Syria Activists: Regime Deceiving Arab League Observers

Arab League observers (in orange) speak with what appear to be regime loyalists

Syrian activists speaking to the Associated Press lodged complaints that the Syrian regime of President Bashar Al Assad is deceiving observers from the Arab League as he continues to crackdown with deadly force against anti-government protesters. Activists both inside Syria and in exile reported that the regime was taking measures to prevent free access for the mission of observers, which the Arab League said it would nearly double in the near future.

One local in the restive city of Homs — where, despite the removal of heavy weaponry ahead of the Arab League mission, sniper fire continues to kill demonstrators — said regime loyalists were bussed in and posed as residents to speak with the mission. The AP also reported:

Another activist, Syria-based Mustafa Osso said the regime is mostly taking the observers to relatively calm areas, painting military vehicles blue and changing street signs so that the monitors go to wrong neighborhoods.

“Since the mission started the regime is limiting their (observers) movements and when they go out they are under the protection and supervision” of Syrian security, he said. “In Homs, they raised signs of Bab Sbaa in other neighborhoods.”

The U.S. yesterday questioned the effectiveness of the mission, which by agreement with the Syrian government was meant to usher in the removal of security forces from cities and oversee talks with the opposition. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said:

The Syrian regime has not lived up to the full spectrum of commitments that it made to the Arab League when it accepted its proposal some nine weeks ago. For example, the violence hasn’t stopped. Far from it.

Questions have also been raised about the leader of the Arab League mission, Sudanese Lieutenant General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, a deputy of President Omar al-Bashir, who is himself wanted by the Hague for war crimes.

Meanwhile, threats of stepped up attacks by Syrian rebels are heightening fears of an all-out civil war, including possibly one along sectarian lines inflamed by regime propaganda.