CAIRO (AP) – The Arab League agreed to revive Syria, ending a 12-year ban and taking another step toward reinstating Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a longtime regional outcast.
Some influential members of the alliance continue to oppose Syria’s reinstatement, notably Qatar’s failure to send its foreign minister to Sunday’s rally. Thirteen of his twenty-two member states of the League of Nations sent foreign ministers to the conference in Cairo.
This decision was a victory for Damascus, if largely symbolic. With Western sanctions continuing against the Assad regime, a return to the Arab League is unlikely to immediately release funds for rebuilding the war-torn country. Syria’s accession to the Arab League was suspended early in the 2011 uprising against the Assad regime. The riots were violently suppressed and soon devolved into civil war. The conflict has killed nearly half a million people since March 2011 and displaced half of the country’s pre-war population of 23 million.
Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abul Gheit said in a televised statement that the decision to hand over Syria to the organization would allow Assad to attend the group’s summit scheduled for May 19.
Syrian Prime Minister Hussein Al-Nous claimed on Sunday that Syria had been the victim of “a campaign of misinformation and distortion by the enemy” for 12 years. He said Sunday’s talks reflected Syria’s “respected position” at the regional and international levels.
Opponents of Assad viewed the step towards normalization as a betrayal.
“Arab states prioritize their own cynical realist political and diplomatic agendas over basic humanitarianism,” said Laila Kiki, executive director of the international advocacy group Syria Campaign. Stated. The move “barbarously betrayed tens of thousands of victims of the regime’s war crimes and gave Assad the green light to continue committing horrific crimes with impunity,” she said.
Sunday’s decision came days after top regional diplomats met in Jordan to discuss a roadmap for returning Syria to the Arab fold as the conflict continues to dwindle. A summit is scheduled for May 19 in Saudi Arabia.
The Arab League usually tries to reach agreements by consensus, but sometimes opts for a simple majority vote. Sunday’s session was closed to the public, and it was not immediately clear which countries were opposed.
Sunday’s decision also included the Arab government’s commitment to reach a political settlement of the conflict, in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254. Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq have been asked by the league to follow up.
The League of Nations will work with Arab countries to resolve the “humanitarian, security and political” crises affecting Syria and the region due to conflicts involving refugees, “threats of terrorism and drug trafficking”.
Many observers expected Syria’s imminent return to the organization.
Arab reconciliation with Damascus accelerated after her deadly February 6 earthquake that shook parts of the war-torn country. One country pushing for normalization is Saudi Arabia, which once backed opposition groups trying to overthrow the Assad regime. Egypt’s Foreign Minister Samer Shoukri said ahead of Sunday’s meeting that only an Arab-led “political solution without foreign direction” could end the ongoing conflict. The various stages of the conflict show that there is no military solution and there are no winners or losers in this conflict,” he said.
Syria’s neighbors, home to large numbers of refugees, have taken steps to resume diplomatic ties with Damascus as Assad regained control of most of the country in recent years, with the help of his main allies Russia and Iran. was taught. Meanwhile, her two Gulf monarchies, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, have resumed ties.
February The 6.6 earthquake that shook Turkey and Syria became the catalyst for further normalization across the Arab world. China helped broker a recent rapprochement between its biggest rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, which have backed opposing sides in the Syrian conflict.
Jordan hosted regional talks last week, attended by envoys from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt and Syria. They agreed on a framework called the “Jordan Initiative” to slowly bring Damascus back into the Arab fold. Amman’s top diplomat said the meeting was “the beginning of an Arab-led political path” to resolve the crisis. The conflict in Sudan is also on the agenda as Arab countries seek to stabilize a shaky ceasefire in an ongoing battle that has killed hundreds in recent weeks.