Arab League observers are scheduled to visit Daraa today, but activists are quickly losing faith that their presence will make much difference. Human rights activists had criticized the Arab League’s choice to lead the mission—former Sudanese military intelligence head Mohammed al-Dabi—from the start, the New York Times reports, and those doubts are getting louder. Prominent Syrian dissident Haytham Manna joined the chorus today, urging the Arab League to “save the observers’ mission” by replacing Dabi.
Dabi seemed to validate activists’ fears this week when, following a visit to Homs that had been cut short by gunfire, he proclaimed that, “Some places looked a bit of a mess, but there was nothing frightening.” The observers’ presence certainly hasn’t stopped the violence, which has flared in recent days. Syrian security forces opened fire on a protest in a Damascus suburb today, killing at least four, the AP reports, despite the presence of Arab League monitors in a nearby municipal building. (Read more Mohammed al-Dabi stories.)