Syria returns to the Arab League
After twelve years: Arab foreign ministers voted for Syria’s return to the Arab League.
Syria returns to the Arab League

Syria returns to the Arab League

Photo: AFP/Khaled Desouki
Meszár Tárik 07/05/2023 18:58

Arab government officials voted Sunday in Cairo for Syria’s return to the Arab League after a 12-year suspension. According to the decision, Syria can participate in Arab League meetings but must commit to maintaining a permanent dialogue with Arab governments to gradually find a political solution to the Syrian conflict, according to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254.

In the resolution, the Arab League also decided to establish a ministerial liaison committee, which will include Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and the Secretary General of the Arab League, and whose main task will be to monitor developments and oversee the implementation of the Amman agreement.

Suspension of Syria’s membership

Syria’s membership was suspended in November 2011 as the country’s leadership violently cracked down on protests that began in early 2011 as part of the Arab Spring. With this move, the Arab League put pressure on the Syrian government to end the violence and begin a dialogue with opposition groups.

The suspension had significant diplomatic and political consequences. It isolated the country’s government in the Middle East from other Arab states and reduced its influence in the region. It also sent a strong message to the international community that the Arab League was taking a stand against the Syrian government’s actions.

Arab countries close to the Syrian regime, however, have occasionally called for Syria’s reinstatement, but the issue remains contentious among member states.
Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan received by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus (Photo: AFP/Syrian Presidency)

Shifting momentum in the Middle East

The Syrian president’s participation in the upcoming Arab League summit would be the most important step toward his country’s reintegration into the Arab world since 2011. In addition, several recent developments in the Middle East indicate a shift in momentum. For example, a landmark agreement to restore relations was reached in March between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Assad’s main backer, with Chinese mediation. The rapprochement between Riyadh and Tehran can be seen as part of a broader regional realignment that could reshape the geopolitical map of the Middle East and the region as a whole.

The author is a researcher at the Eurasia Center of John von Neumann University

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