The initiative urges Damascus to work cooperatively with Arab governments to address issues such as drug smuggling, the disappearance of detainees, and refugees.
Syria‘s top diplomat will meet with Arab foreign ministers in Jordan on Monday to discuss rejoining the Arab League as part of a broader political settlement to the country’s more than ten-year-old conflict, according to officials.
Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad and his counterparts from Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia are expected to attend the meeting, which will discuss a Jordanian plan to bring about a political settlement of the conflict, according to officials in the Jordanian government.
Two weeks ago, the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council met with Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and other Arab nations in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, but negotiations on Syria’s potential assimilation were unsuccessful.
It is the first such meeting with a senior Syrian official by a group of Arab nations, the majority of which supported the decision to suspend Syria’s League of Arab States membership in 2011 after a crackdown on demonstrators opposing President Bashar al-Assad’s authoritarian rule descended into a bloody civil war.
Arab nations and those most impacted by the conflict are attempting to come to an agreement on whether to invite Assad to the 19 May Arab League summit in Riyadh to discuss the pace of normalizing relations with Assad and under what conditions Syria might be allowed back.
According to officials, the Jordanian initiative asks Damascus to collaborate with Arab governments on a step-by-step plan to end the conflict.
The issue of refugees, the fate of thousands of missing prisoners, drug smuggling between Syria and the Persian Gulf, and the presence of Iranian militias in Syria would all be addressed as part of this plan.
Saudi Arabia, the regional superpower, has resisted normalizing relations with Assad, but it has stated that a new approach with Damascus, which is under Western sanctions, was required following its rapprochement with Iran, Syria’s key regional ally.
There was opposition to inviting Assad to the Arab League summit at the Jeddah meeting. Qatar, Jordan, and Kuwait said it was too soon before Damascus agreed to negotiate a peace plan.
Arab officials have been flocking to Syria in recent months to re-engage and normalize relations with the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, rather than to provide assistance to the victims of the earthquake that struck the northwest of the country, killing approximately 6,000 people.
Last month, Sultan Haitham bin Tariq welcomed Assad, who was making only his second state visit to Oman since 2011. Oman has never severed ties to Damascus.
These authorities have legitimized these visits with regards to offering help and fortitude to the Syrian nation after the quake. However, this justification is baseless, revealing the extent to which these nations are eager to reestablish relations with the Assad regime in the midst of an ongoing war that has destroyed the country, displaced more than 12 million people, and killed more than half a million.
Ironically, the earthquake primarily affected cities like Aleppo, Hama, Latakia, and Idlib, some of which are not under the control of the Syrian government.