Arab League observer damns Syria mission in Al Jazeera scoop

Rebecca Hawkes | 11-01-2012

Al Jazeera English has obtained an interview with one of the Arab League monitors in Syria who, in a major scoop for the Qatar-based TV news channel, has spoken candidly about major failings in the operation.

"The mission was a farce and the observers have been fooled," Anwer Malek told Al Jazeera. "The regime [of President Assad] orchestrated it and fabricated most of what we saw to stop the Arab League from taking action against the regime.

"What I saw was a humanitarian disaster. The [Syrian] regime isn't committing one war crime but a series of crimes against its people."

Malek, who has now resigned from the mission, told the TV news network: "The regime didn't meet any of our requests, in fact they were trying to deceive us and steer us away from what was really happening towards insignificant things.

"They didn't withdraw their tanks from the streets they just hid them and redeployed them after we left."

The former observer asserts that because of the presence of the Arab League, "the regime has gained a lot of time that has helped it to implement its plan.

"They wanted to use this mission and they've sent spies and intelligence officers with our team to act as drivers and minders to get our information and as soon as we left an area they attacked people."

During the televised interview, Malek claimed: "The snipers are everywhere shooting at civilians. People are being kidnapped. Prisoners are being tortured and no one has been released.

"Those who are supposedly freed and shown on TV are actually people who had been randomly grabbed off the streets."

The popular uprising against President Assad's regime, which began in Syria in March 2011, has claimed the lives of over 5,000 people, according to the United Nations.
International media are largely banned from the troubled Middle East country, so news organisations such as Al Jazeera have relied heavily on citizen journalism. This interview, from an Arab League official, represents a significant journalistic coup for Al Jazeera English's continued coverage of the uprising in Syria.