A controversy has erupted over the Arab League observation mission in Syria, headed by retired Sudanese general Mohamed al Dabi. Dabi, who some are calling the "world's worst" human rights observer, is accused of creating the fearsome "janjaweed" militia responsible for the worst atrocities during the Darfur genocide. Dabi's past is only one of many criticisms of the observer mission, which human rights activists feel is falling short of its promise to monitor implementation of an Arab League initiative meant to end President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown.
Alex de Waal, executive director of the World Peace Foundation at The Fletcher School and co-author of Darfur: A New History of a Long War, has been sharing insight, leading off with commentary in Foreign Policy.
"[T]he army command finds the militia useful and fearsome in equal measure," de Waal told Foreign Policy. "So al-Dabi's regularization of the Arab militia served both to rein them in, but also to legitimize their activities and retain them as a future strike force."
De Waal also has provided additional weigh-in as the events in Syria are unfolding to The Associated Press, the Guardian of London and The New York Times.