Syria is back to Arab League after 12 years

StarAvis Desk
StarAvis Desk
5 Min Read
On Sunday, the foreign ministers' meeting of the Arab League convened in Cairo, Egypt. Photo: EPA-EFE

The bloc aims for an “Arab-led political path” to resolve the Syrian crisis, as it normalizes its ties with Damascus.

According to Iraqi state media, foreign ministers of Arab League member states have unanimously agreed to reinstate Syria’s membership after its suspension over 10 years ago. The ministers conducted the voting at the Arab League’s headquarters in Cairo on Sunday, which resulted in Syria’s return to the organization.

Prior to the upcoming Arab League Summit in Saudi Arabia on May 19, a decision was made to reinstate Syria’s membership in the organization. This move comes amidst a recent wave of regional normalization efforts with Damascus.

Syria was suspended from the Arab League after President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on protestors in March 2011, which led to a civil war that caused the death of almost 500,000 people and the displacement of over 23 million.

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With al-Assad’s consolidation of Syrian territory, Arab states have been aiming to normalize their relations and pursue an “Arab-led political path” towards resolving the crisis, as per Jordan’s top diplomat, quoted by The Associated Press news agency.

After a meeting of senior diplomats from Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Syria in Jordan last week, the vote to reinstate Syria’s membership in the Arab League took place. The diplomats had named the process of reintegrating Damascus into the Arab League as the “Jordanian Initiative.”

On Sunday, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit stated that if President al-Assad desires to attend the Arab League summit later this month, he is welcome to do so. At a press conference in Cairo, Aboul Gheit responded to a question regarding al-Assad’s possible participation in the Saudi Arabia summit by saying that Syria has regained its full membership in the Arab League, giving it the right to occupy any seat at the summit starting from the following day.

Regarding al-Assad’s potential participation, Aboul Gheit said, “When the invitation is sent by the hosting country, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and if he wishes to participate, he will participate.”

In response to the Arab League’s decision to reinstate Syria’s membership, the Syrian government called for Arab states to demonstrate “mutual respect” on Sunday.

In a statement released on Sunday, the Syrian foreign ministry emphasized the importance of “joint work and dialogue” in tackling the challenges faced by Arab countries. The ministry also called for Arab states to adopt “an effective approach based on mutual respect.”

The file photo shows a view of the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates building in the capital, Damascus.
The file photo shows a view of the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates building in the capital, Damascus.

The decision to readmit Syria into the Arab League also includes a commitment to engage in ongoing dialogue with Arab governments towards achieving a political solution to the conflict, in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254. The Arab League has also established a communications committee, comprising Saudi Arabia and Syria’s neighbors Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq, to monitor developments and progress.

Furthermore, in addition to the gradual resolution of the conflict, the decision has welcomed the Syrian government’s willingness to collaborate with Arab nations in resolving humanitarian, security, and political crises stemming from the conflict. This includes issues related to refugees, terrorism, and drug smuggling, which have had a significant impact on Syria and the wider region.

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Recent events such as the deadly earthquake in Turkey and Syria on February 6 and the Chinese-mediated restoration of ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which had supported opposite sides in the Syrian conflict, have accelerated the normalization of relations with Damascus.

Despite its long-standing resistance to restoring ties with al-Assad, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud made a historic visit to Damascus last month, marking the resumption of diplomatic relations and air travel between the two nations.

Last week, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi visited Damascus and signed significant long-term trade and oil agreements.

However, Jordan, Kuwait, and Qatar have voiced their opposition to al-Assad’s participation in the Arab League summit, stating that extending an invitation before Damascus agrees to engage in peace negotiations would be premature.

In contrast, the United States has refused to alter its stance towards the Syrian government, denouncing it as a “rogue” state and urging Arab states to secure concessions from al-Assad in exchange for engaging with his government.


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