Ever since the observers arrived, defections have been increasing a great deal. Soldiers are more willing to defect when they know that the army can’t chase them into Baba Amr and other areas.
For that reason alone, I say let’s keep the observer team in Syria for as long as possible. If I may make a bold prediction, but it looks like the regime fell into a trap, and it’s been outflanked. Baba Amr has never been quieter. To someone in Homs, it makes a big difference if a tank has been moved a kilometer away, even though in strict military terms it might appear insignificant.
As long as the observers are in Syria, the regime has no hope whatsoever of subduing the main hotspots. A de facto safe haven is therefore in the making, where defectors can seek shelter, safe from the regime’s retribution. Apparently, someone at the AL has thought things through more thoroughly than junior’s conspiracy obsessed advisors have.
Al Arabi wants desperately to show that the observer team is producing results. On the surface, his talk of the army completely withdrawing from cities might have seemed strange. But when you think about it, that’s all the encouragement a defector-to-be-needs; when he knows that there are areas where his pursuers cannot go to chase him.
Now all they need to do is be able to make their way to those areas.
And once the regime is forced to allow independent media into the country, they can do a far better job than thousands of observers can. To the menhebaks, the presence of an independent media is worse than a full NATO division on the border.