After more than a decade of absence from the Arab League, Syria joined the alliance and this Monday, Syrian officials participated in a preparatory session in Saudi Arabia.
After more than a decade of exile from the Arab League, the Syrian government was finally allowed to rejoin the alliance, with Syrian officials taking part in the League’s session this Monday. Welcoming Syria’s return to the Arab League, Saudi finance minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said during the meeting that “I… take this opportunity to welcome the Syrian Arab Republic to the League of Arab States,”
As the meeting was broadcast live by Saudi Arabia’s state TV channel Al Ekhbariya and the camera panned to the Syrian delegation, Jadaan also added that he was “looking forward to working with everyone to achieve what we aspire to”.
When the civil war in Syria started back in 2011, Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, Egypt, and Kuwait suspended Syria’s membership from the League in support of the rebels who were trying to topple the Assad government from power.
But as the Syrian government proved unbreakable and regained lost territory to terrorists with crucial support from Iran and Russia, the Persian Gulf countries began restoring ties with Damascus.
It was first the United Arab Emirates that decided to reestablish ties with Syria back in 2018 and recently took the lead in efforts to reintegrate Damascus. Earlier in February, diplomatic activity between the Assad government and Arab states notably resumed after the deadly earthquake which struck Syria and Turkey.
Riyadh, for example, which cut ties with the Syrian government in 2012, confirmed last week that it has resumed diplomatic missions in Syria as part of the process of normalization of relations with the war-stricken country. Earlier this month, Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, invited the Syrian president to participate in the annual summit to be held on Friday in the coastal city of Jeddah.
Monday joint meeting of the Arab League was therefore Syria’s first participation since 2010, when the summit took place in Libya at the time.
Syria’s return to the Arab League, a slap in the face of Washington
Syria’s representatives took part in the Arab League’s meeting this Monday while the US government has, during recent weeks, been trying restlessly to prevent the event and keep Syria isolated.
This Friday, and in reaction to the Arab League’s decision in early May that the Syria government can rejoin the alliance, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the US Congress proposed a bill that if passed in both houses, it would prohibit the US government from normalizing diplomatic relations with Syrian government and impose even more sanctions on the regional countries that have in mind to restore their ties with Damascus. The bipartisan bill would also pave the way for sanctions to be imposed on the countries which engage in energy transactions with Syria and allow Syrian airlines to land in their airports.
“The United States must use all of our leverage to stop normalization with Assad,” Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement on the bill Friday. “I am proud to join my colleagues in mandating further sanctions against any form of investment in territory under the control of Assad.”
Despite the threatening language from the US, however, the Arab League member states welcomed Syria’s return this Monday and none of them has yet given any comment on Washington’s threat.