Mon Jan 23, 2012 - The prominent journalist says the Arab League report on Syria is flawed because it states that a threat exists on the people and government, yet it proposes the army should stand down.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Lizzie Phelan, freelance journalist, to further discuss the issue.
Press TV: Some of the major points of the report by the head of the Arab League monitors in Syria: They didn't face any problems, they say, from the Syrian govt.; violence has subsided, they say, despite claims by the armed opposition; the fact that the opposition are armed; and that there were exaggerations over the way the monitors conducted their mission. Overall, how do you see the report?
Phelan: Well, of course, there are from the Syrian government's point of view some positive things that have come out of the report, but overall they're not very happy with the report because they have recommend that the president hand over power to the deputy. And the Syrian government has called this a blatant violation of their sovereignty.
Of course, there is a political process happening here in Syria. Just a couple of weeks ago, the president has announced reforms including a new constitution that would be put to a referendum in a very short space of time.
And while the Arab League has said that violence has subsided since the observers have been in the country, it's difficult to know what they're comparing it to because before they arrived the only reports about supposed government violence on supposed peaceful protesters was coming from unverifiable sources.
And, actually, the majority of them were coming from an organization called the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which is based in London and is a very dubious organization. Nobody really knows who they really are. There are some evidences that they are linked to some Western intelligence services.
But on the other hand, the Arab League has acknowledged that the government's insistence that there are some violence coming from some anti-insurgence sites of the country.
And, of course, just a few days ago, Arab League officials themselves extraordinarily said that the attack in Homs that famously killed the [French] journalist Gilles Jacquier and eight other Syrian civilians was combated by so-called Free Syrian army fighters. So that was an extraordinary admission. There was also an admission of that by the French.
But the Arab League, on the one hand, they're acknowledging that arms insurgents inside the country, but they're not acknowledging then that as a result the Syrian government is in a very difficult position.
Because if they're acknowledging that in places like Homs and other places, that there are arms insurgents inside the country, then what we know is that these insurgents are embedded amongst the civilian population. This is very difficult for the Syrian military and the government to respond to in a decisive way without causing a loss to civilian life.
So, on the one hand they're calling for no action by the Syrian army but on the other hand they're acknowledging that there is a real threat to the civilian population, army and police by arms insurgence.
One must ask what their recommendations are that the Syrian state should do in the face of that problem.
And then, of course, the other thing that came out of this report is that the Arab League observers said that they've been under a lot of pressure by the international media.
There is very much a feeling that there has been a huge media war conducted against Syria. And that if the media, especially channels like Al-Jazeera and the others wouldn't have been involved in this crisis then actually it would have been over a long time ago.
So, there is an admission that they have been under a lot of pressure to not say the truth about what's been happening in Syria but what international media organization like Al-Jazeera which, of course, is funded by the state of Qatar that famously has called for troops to intervene in Syria.
But really, now the Arab League must be very careful that they stick to the peace plan that was accepted by the Syrian government when they entered the country, that they don't go into the dangerous waters of violating the sovereignty of Syria, and to respond to pressure by some forces to hand over more influence to the United Nations Security Council which, as we know from the Libya example is a slippery slope to military intervention and war in Syria which can never be a good thing for the Syrian people.
Press TV: Lizzie, if you could just briefly tell us before we run out of time, Saudi Arabia, as we know, says it's going to withdraw from the Arab League mission in Syria claiming that the monitors have failed. Does this mean that the Saudis were unsuccessful in getting what they wanted from this observer mission?