Cairo, 7 May 2023 (TDI): The foreign ministers of Arab League member countries have unanimously voted for the reinstatement of membership of Syria, which had been suspended for over a decade. This decision was made during the meeting held at the Arab League’s headquarters in Cairo on Sunday.
The decision was made ahead of the Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia on May 19 and amid a recent trend of regional normalization of ties with Damascus.
The restoration of ties with Syria has gained momentum following the earthquake in Turkey and Syria in February and the Chinese-brokered re-establishment of ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Arab states have been seeking a “political path” led by Arab nations to resolve the Syrian crisis. Jordan has been leading the efforts and dubbed the process of bringing Damascus back into the Arab fold the “Jordanian Initiative.”
The move has faced criticism from opposition groups, but Arab leaders argue that it is the way forward. Syria has called for Arab Leauge to show “mutual respect” following the Arab League’s decision, stressing the importance of dialogue to tackle the challenges facing Arab nations.
Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, said al-Assad could attend the Arab League summit later this month “if he wishes to.” However, Jordan, Kuwait, and Qatar have opposed al-Assad’s presence at the summit, saying an invitation before Damascus agrees to negotiate a peace plan would be premature.
While Saudi Arabia had previously resisted normalizing relations with al-Assad, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud visited Damascus last month for the first time in over a decade, and the two countries are restoring embassies and flights between them.
Additionally, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi also visited Damascus last week, signing long-term trade and oil agreements.
The US, on the other hand, has confirmed that it will continue with its existing policy towards the Syrian government, which it regards as a matter of policy. Additionally, the US has encouraged Arab nations to pursue beneficial outcomes as a result of their interactions with the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad.