Violence Lingers, But Progress Seen in Arab League’s Syria Mission

3,500 Detainees Released, But Snipers Still Active

In a statement today the head of the Arab League defended the observer mission as making progress in Syria, noting that the Assad regime has removed tanks for major protest cities since their arrival.

In addition to removing the tanks, Nabil El-Arabi reported that the regime has released some 3,500 political prisoners since their arrival, with more expected soon. He urged opposition figures to aid them in securing further releases by providing the names of those they believe have been captured.

Recently the opposition has made a point of publicly condemning the monitors as accomplishing nothing, and while the Arab League conceded that snipers remain a problem at the rallies it does seem that slowly but surely the mission is having a real impact on the ground.

The question of how much further impact the monitors can have remains an open one, largely dependent on the regime’s willingness to offer meaningful reform as well as the growing violence of the defector forces, which are increasingly making the peaceful protests very much beside the point.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.