Arab League reinstates Syria after 12 years

By Ibrahim al-Khazen

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AA) – The Arab League on Sunday decided to reinstate Syria’s membership after 12 years of suspension.

Addressing a press conference in Cairo, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Arab League foreign ministers agreed to resume the participation of Syrian government delegations in the League meetings.

The decision was taken following a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in the Egyptian capital where the Ministers voted for Syria’s return into the Arab League.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit confirmed that Syria was readmitted to the pan-Arab body.

Speaking during the same press conference, Aboul Gheit said a follow-up committee was formed by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Iraq to follow up on reaching a settlement to the Syrian crisis.

“The establishment of normal relations between Syria and Arab countries is a sovereign decision for each country,” he added.

“This doesn’t mean that the Syrian crisis has been resolved, on the contrary,” he said.

Aboul Gheit also acknowledged that President of Syria Bashir al-Assad could participate at the summit in Saudi Arabia on May 19.

“If he wishes, because Syria, starting from this evening, is a full member of the Arab League, and from tomorrow morning they have the right to occupy any seat, he told the press conference.

“When the invitation is sent by the hosting country, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and if he wishes to participate, he will participate,” he said.

Syrian Prime Minister Hussein Arnous said on Sunday that Syria had been the victim of “misinformation and distortion campaigns launched by our enemies” for 12 years. He said Sunday’s consultations reflected the “prestigious position” Syria holds regionally and internationally.

The vote took place following a meeting of regional diplomats from Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Syria in Jordan last week.

Earlier reports said that Arab foreign ministers gave their conditional approval for Syria’s return to the Arab League.

According to the Saudi Al Majalla magazine, Syria’s return to the Arab League was conditioned on the Syrian regime taking practical steps towards resolving the Syrian crisis.

The decision to reinstate Syria’s membership comes ahead of the annual Arab summit in Saudi Arabia on May 19.

Iran welcomed the decision of the Arab League to re-instate Syria into its fold.

“Resolving differences between Islamic countries and rapprochement and synergy between them has positive results in stability and the establishment of comprehensive peace,” Iran’s Foreign Minister’s spokesman Nasser Kanaani said in a statement on Monday, reported by IRNA.

He added, “The Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes this approach.”

Syria was suspended from the 22-state body in 2011 over the government’s brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protests, which led to a civil war.

The Syrian government, however, began to exchange official visits and contacts with several Arab countries in recent months.

Western sanctions against Assad’s government still remain in place.

*Writing by Ahmed Asmar

Additional report by The Muslim News

[Photo: A general view of the Arab League Foreign Ministers meeting in Cairo, Egypt on May 07, 2023. Photojournalist :Foreign Ministry of Egypt/AA]

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