“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. “Those who are supposedly freed and shown on TV are actually people who had been randomly grabbed off the streets.”
Malek’s statements will undoubtedly provide fodder for those advocating escalating confrontation with the Assad regime, but in truth he is something of a grandstander and dingbat.
The vest is a telling detail since, by Malek’s own admission, he quit the mission and ensconced himself in his hotel room for the last four days of the mission, presumably removing the need to wear that fancy orange attire except when dining out at Homs' finer eating establishments.
Al Jazeera’s Anwar Malek liveblog reported on the contretemp:
Malek’s accomplishments in Arabic literature are beyond me. Listening to him, on the other hand, is demonstrably a chore, as a bizarre and contentious 2009 appearance on Al Jazeera demonstrates.
Youtube has it.
Highlights of his remarks were translated by MEMRI, the Israel-affiliated open source intelligence outfit, and lovingly cited on a multitude of right wing Jewish and Christian fundamentalist websites.
It’s easy to see why.
The theme of his discourse is, in his own words, “The Arabs are backward and not fit for civilization at all.”
Some of his high-speed rant is, in light of current events, rather ironic:
[Arab rulers] emerged from among the people and share the same beliefs. If you placed any Arab citizen in power, I challenge any Arab citizen who may become a ruler to do anything beyond what the current Arab leaders are doing. There is no difference between the Arab rulers and the Arab people.
When the moderator makes the case for contemporary Arab worth as demonstrated by heroic resistance against overwhelming odds, Malek retorts:
What resistance are you talking about? If you are talking about the resistance of Hizbullah, Hizbullah has destroyed Lebanon, in the framework of a Persian conspiracy. I say this point blank.
The picture emerges of a Rush Limbaugh-style cultural provocateur and Arab chauvinist nostalgic for the glory days of the Arab empires—and a reflexive Iranophobe.
And, perhaps, a self-selected plant eager to discredit the observer mission from within.
Interesting choice for an observer group trying to mediate between an Iran-backed Shi’ite-esque regime and a Sunni/Muslim Brotherhood rebellion.
Of course, the issue of how that observer group—headed by Sudan’s strongman for Darfur—got put together in the first place would make an interesting story. Too bad Al Jazeera isn’t interested in telling it.