Arab League monitors made ‘mistakes’ in Syria

Qatari PM says monitors were inexperienced, is seeking support from United Nations
Arab League monitors made ‘mistakes’ in Syria
Qatars Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani
By Reuters
Thu 05 Jan 2012 02:28 PM

Arab League monitors made "mistakes" in Syria during a mission to investigate a crackdown on nine months of anti-government protests, Kuwait's state news agency quoted the prime minister of Qatar as saying, without elaborating.

"This is the first experience for us ... and I said we must evaluate the types of mistakes it (the mission) made and without a shadow of a doubt I see mistakes, even though we went in (to Syria) to observe, not to stop the violence," said Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani after a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in New York.

Sheikh Hamad, who also chairs an Arab League taskforce on Syria, did not elaborate on the "mistakes", but said he was seeking "technical help" from the UN.

No comment was immediately available from Qatari officials on the report from KUNA, the Kuwaiti state news agency.

The team of observers arrived in Syria last week to verify whether the government was implementing a plan to scale back its military presence and free thousands of prisoners detained since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's rule began last March.

The observer mission has stirred controversy, with rights groups reporting more deaths in clashes and tens of thousands of protesters taking to the streets to show the observers the extent of their anger.

Sheikh Hamad said the League would soon hear the monitors' findings and assess the mission's viability: "We are going to evaluate all sides of the situation and we will look at the possibility of the delegation continuing or not and how we can carry on this mission, but we need to listen to the reports of those who were on the ground first".

On the likelihood of Syria being referred to the United Nations Security Council, Sheikh Hamad said: "We always try to create a solution to this crisis within the Arab League, but that depends on the Syrian government and the extent of its clarity with us in producing a solution to the crisis."

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