Call to pull out Arab League staff from Syria

A PAN-Arab body has called for the immediate withdrawal of the Arab League monitors in Syria because president Bashar al- Assad’s regime has kept up killings of government opponents.

The 88-member Arab Parliament said yesterday that Arabs are angered by the Syrian regime’s ongoing killings while the nearly 100 monitors are in the country. The monitors are supposed to be ensuring Syria complies with terms of the League’s plan to end the nine-month-old crackdown on dissent – a plan Syria agreed to on 19 December.

However, the Kuwaiti head of the Arab Parliament, Ali Salem al-Deqbasi, said the presence of the monitors is distracting from the “flagrant violations” committed by the Assad regime.

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“The killing of children and the violation of human rights law is happening in the presence of Arab League monitors, raising the fury of Arab people,” he said.

“The mission of the Arab League team has missed its aim of stopping the killing of children and ensuring the withdrawal of troops from the Syrian streets, giving the Syrian regime a cover to commit inhumane acts under the noses of the Arab League observers,” Mr al-Deqbasi said in a statement.

The Arab League created the Arab Parliament, which is made up of MPs and advisers from states around the Middle East. Its recommendations are non-binding and it operates separately from the Arab League.

While the Arab Parliament has little sway on Damascus or the Arab League, Mr al-Deqbasi’s remarks about the observer mission represents growing concern about the monitors’ ability to deter Assad’s regime.

According to activists, more than 150 people have been killed across the country since the observers began their one-month mission on Tuesday.