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Thu 12 Jan 2012 01:04 PM

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Second Arab monitor may quit over Syria bloodshed

Arab League peace mission in war-torn nation is ‘farce’, says Algerian observer

Second Arab monitor may quit over Syria bloodshed
Embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has blamed foreign elements for the uprising

An Arab observer delegation in Syria is running into further
difficulties, with two members either quitting or threatening to do so within
24 hours because their mission is proving ineffectual in ending the suffering
of civilians.

An observer who declined to give his name said on Wednesday
he was ready to walk out, exposing rifts in an Arab peace effort a day after
Anwar Malek, an Algerian observer, told Al Jazeera TV he had quit Syria because
the peace mission was a "farce".

Both men spoke of continued violence, killings and torture,
saying the bloodshed had not abated as a result of the presence of the Arab
League mission. Both described Syrians' suffering as "unimaginable".

Malek's departure was a blow to the mission, already
criticised by Syria's opposition as a toothless body that only served to buy President
Bashar al-Assad time
.

Its work has already been hampered by an attack on monitors
in the western port of Latakia this week that lightly wounded 11 and prompted
the League to delay sending new observers to Syria to join about 165 already
there.

Another resignation would further undermine its credibility.

Asked if he agreed with Malek's characterisation of the
mission as a failure, the monitor said: "It is true, it is true. Even I am
trying to leave on Friday. I'm going to Cairo or elsewhere... because the
mission is unclear.... It does not serve the citizens. It does not serve
anything."

"The Syrian authorities have exploited the weakness in
the performance of the delegation to not respond. There is no real response on
the ground."

The monitor, speaking by telephone from Syria, asked not to
be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

"The military gear is still present even in the
mosques. We asked that military equipment be withdrawn from the Abu Bakr
al-Siddiq mosque in Deraa and until today they have not withdrawn."

The Arab League monitoring mission began work on Dec. 26.
Its task is to verify if Syria is complying with an agreement to halt a
crackdown on 10 months of protests against Assad in which the United Nations
says more than 5,000 people have been killed.

A UN official told the Security Council on Tuesday that
Syria had accelerated its killing of protesters after the Arab monitors had
arrived.

Assad mocked the Arab League in a speech in which he said
that it had failed for six decades to promised to take a position in Arab
interests. He said he would strike down a revolt he slammed as foreign plot.

The choice of a Sudanese general to head the mission had
already alarmed opposition activists who say Sudan's own defiance of a war
crimes tribunal means the monitors probably will not recommend strong action
against Assad.

The unnamed monitor said the Syrian authorities had shown
little genuine willingness to comply with the plan while the observers lacked
the expertise to do their mission justice.

"There is oppression. There is strong oppression and
there is suffering, a lot of suffering, more than you imagine," he said,
describing one part of the central city of Homs he had visited.

"This is a very big problem and it is related firstly
to the general will of the Syrian authorities to cooperate with the delegation
in a genuine manner and without manoeuvring," he said.

"Secondly, it is related to the expertise of the
delegation... It needs experts in the fields of monitoring, of diplomacy, of
international law."

While an Arab League meeting on Syria said on Sunday it
remained committed to the mission, the observer said that individual monitors
were thinking of quitting, either fearing for their lives or frustrated at
failing to make a difference.

Malek said Syrian authorities had not withdrawn their tanks
from the streets, but had simply hidden them.

"The snipers are everywhere shooting at civilians.
People are being kidnapped. Prisoners are being tortured and no one has been
released," the Algerian former observer said on Al Jazeera. "Those who
are supposedly freed and shown on TV are actually people who had been randomly
grabbed off the streets."

Earlier, a posting by Malek on Facebook was taken down, but
his words were quoted on the page of Adib Shishakly, a member of the opposition
Syrian National Council.

"Bloodshed in Syria hasn't stopped," Malek
reportedly said. "Every day, we see bodies in conditions that are
unimaginable. Violence is increasing and we are unable to do anything for the
victims of snipers, bombardments and assassinations.

"Kidnapping continues, and torture has exceeded all
boundaries. Syria is headed towards destruction and civil war."

He said the monitors were "ruled by restrictions
imposed by their governments", but did not go into details.

"I am now clearing my conscience to the heroic people
of Syria... The truth is gone and the right path is gone. And the sun of the
Arabs has set in the alleyways of sad Syria."

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