Hypocrisy decried as international observers note General Mohammad Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi’s role founding the genocidal janjaweed guerrillas.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on civil society weathered intense criticism for months before any substantive action being taken against him by his Arab League partners. Now it is the Arab League’s Human Rights Mission to Syria that is the focus of international ire. The United Nations claimed that the Syrian crackdown has resulted in at least 5,000 deaths to date. An Arab League Mission dispatched to Homs, epicenter of the civil unrest and casualty capital, arrived December 27th under the auspices of promoting an end to the violence between the al-Assad regime and protestors. The arrival of Sudanese General Mohammad Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi has signaled yet another twist in the escalating situation in Syria because General al-Dabi is linked to the genocidal janjaweed guerrillas blamed for much of the suffering in the Darfur region of Sudan.
Not only is General al-Dabi a horrible representative to head a human rights mission but he is also loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Dabi’s involvement with the Darfur crisis began in 1999 during the first breakout of war between the Muslim Arab and Masalit community.
According to Julie Flint and Alex De Waal’s Darfur: A New History of a Long War, General Dabi’s soldiers would venture into Masalit villages to disarm the villagers who would then later be slaughtered by passing janjaweed militiamen. Dabi’s perspective, unsurprisingly, differs somewhat and he claims that he only employed forceful tactics in the pursuit of stability, not ethnic cleansing. Dabi, a long-time Bashir loyalist, has served for over a decade before his arrival in Darfur. General Dabi’s close ties to Qatar have also influenced his position as head of the Arab League mission to Syria given Qatar’s lead role in pressuring the Assad regime.
Many argue that Dabi’s position as head of the human rights mission is one among many failures of the purported mission, chief among them being its inability to stop the violence in Syria or even to bring either side to the bargaining table. The focus on the controversial Sudanese general is nothing more than a delaying tactic used to distract the international community from the failure of the Arab League to bring the Syrian regime in line with accepted human rights norms.