“Do you think these sanctions will deter the Syrian government?”
Nabil el-Arabi: “Five months ago the Arab League made a request to the Syrian government to stop the violence and we tried to find a way to stop the bloodshed in Syria.
“Then we asked to send observers but it did not happen so we created a legal contract to allow observers to be sent to Syria.
“This mission was supposed to protect the Syrian people, but regrettably, the government did not Sign it.
“So recently Arab foreign ministers decided to impose sanctions on certain economic sectors in Syria”
Riad Masas: “As you mentioned, in the last five months you contacted the Syrian regime, and they were stalling, demonstrators in Syria held up banners reading ‘the slow actions of the Arab League are killing us’
“Does this mean that the Arab League is also partly to blame?”
Nabil el-Arabi:” The Arab League is not responsible for what is happening, the Syrian government is the only one who is responsible.
“The Arab League tried many times to talk with the Syrian government and we have taken some actions, there’s nothing more we can do.”
Riad Masas: “Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid Muallem, said the sanctions imposed on Syria by the Arab League had closed the door on finding a solution, what do you think?”
Nabil al-Arabi: “I hope the Syrian Foreign Minister will clarify his speech, what we asked for was to provide protection to the citizens, by sending a group of observers to make sure that nothing happens on the ground, the Syrian government has not signed the agreement proposed by the Arab League, so they are refusing to cooperate.”
Riad Masas: “There are accusations that the Arab League is working to internationalise the Syrian crisis. Are you going to ask for help from the United Nations?”
Nabil el-Arabi: “I want to clarify this issue, every decision that has been issued regarding Syria was to avoid any outside interference. But if the Security Council or the Human Rights Council wants to intervene in Syria, the Arab League does not have anything to do with this.
“The Arab League is working within the framework of Arab countries and hopes to end this crisis amongst ourselves. I hope you will ask me how.”
Riad Masas: “This is exactly my question, Syria closed its doors and did not sign the protocol so the Syrian government has escalated the crisis.”
Nabil el-Arabi: “Escalation here come from Syria, not from the league”
Riad Masas: “This escalation could lead to an all-out war in the Middle East which could result in external intervention by NATO.”
Nabil al -Arabi: “The Arab League is not responsible for that and is still trying to reach an agreement.”
“I sent a letter to Walid al Muallem (the Syrian foreign minister) asking him to sign the Protocol and requested approval to send a number of observers. Our observers are ready to go immediately once it is approved by Damascus.”
Riad Masas: “Are you optimistic that the Syrian regime will sign the protocol?”
Nabil el-Arabi: “I’m neither optimistic nor pessimistic. I see the subject in purely practical terms. We’ve not received a response on this issue. Only during a press conference by Foreign Minister Walid Muallem.”
Riad Masas:“The human rights council says there are crimes against humanity committed in Syria, is the Arab League not also responsible because as well as a league of countries it is a league of people, and is therefore supposed to have a closer interest in human rights? A lot of people are killed every day in Syria”
Nabil el-Arabi: “This is why we made a major effort in recent months to avoid that and now we have one of the two solutions.
Firstly the signing of the agreement to send observers to Syria, and Secondly to continue the economic boycott on certain parts of the Syrian economy, so as not effecting the Syrian people. “
Riad Masas: “Is there an intention to transfer the Syrian issue to the United Nations?
Nabil el-Arabi: “I repeat there is no intention to internationalise the Syrian issue and these decisions are made to prevent any outside interference.
Riad Masas: “In Syria today there are two strong sides of opposition, the free Syrian army and the Syrian National Council.
Nabil el-Arabi: “There is also the coordinating bodies.”
Riad Masas: “Is there an intention to recognise the National Council in the Arab League?
Nabil el-Arabi: “So far this has not happened.
Riad Masas: “Why?”
Nabil el-Arabi: “For several reasons, firstly because there is a government in Syria, and
secondly because the different sides of the Syrian opposition are not united and there is no internal agreement among them.
Riad Masas: “If the opposition was united would you recognise it?
Nabil el-Arabi: “This is a question for the individual members of the league or for the United Nations, but the Arab league itself will not recognise it. “
Riad Masas: “Then why does the opposition come to you?”
Nabil El-Arabi : The Council of Arab Foreign Ministers decied to meet with the opposition and the government in order to conduct a national dialogue to consider the next stage.
“We implemented a resolution adopted by the Council of Arab Foreign Ministers to have a comprehensive national dialogue.
Riad Masas: “But the Syrian regime always rejects this dialogue?
Nabil el-Arabi: “We are working to create a dialogue, we are preparing all parties to do it.”
Riad Masas: “To talk of another issue, did you go to vote in the first democratic elections in Egypt, and how did that feel?
Nabil el-Arabi:“I was happy and very proud to see this kind of election happening in Egypt.
The Organisation of the election was very good , in terms of government and in terms of people.”
“I went there early in the morning to the vote and waited for an hour, but my wife waited for about 5 hours to enter the vote, the turnout was very high.
Riad Masas: “Dr. Nabil Arab Thank you very much.”
Nabil el-Arabi: “Thank you.”