Arab states to welcome Syria back into the fold Sunday

Samar Al-Gamal , Saturday 6 May 2023

After little more than a decade of exclusion, Syria is on the brink of being readmitted to the League of Arab States during an extraordinary meeting of the foreign ministers of the organisation's member states on 7 May, officials told Ahram Online.

File Photo: Arab League foreign ministers meet during an annual meeting in Cairo. AFP
File Photo: Arab League foreign ministers meet during an annual meeting in Cairo. AFP

"The decision to restore Syria's membership may be made tomorrow as all Arab League members will take part in the ministerial meeting," Gamal Roshdy, the spokesman for the Arab League, told Ahram Online.

A senior diplomatic official requesting anonymity confirmed that “the decision shall be made tomorrow with no objections from any of the 22 countries.”

"There might be some reservations, nothing more,” added the source.

He indicated how the Cairo meeting, held on Saturday at the level of permanent representatives, had revealed that any objections to Syria's re-inclusion no longer existed.  

Arab League resolutions usually get adopted after unanimous agreement of all member states, with each country holding the right to submit its reservations.

The Arab League suspended Syria's membership in 2011 after the war broke out there following massive protests. Several member states then recalled their ambassadors from Damascus, accusing Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad of cracking down on demonstrators in the country.

The reconciliation was initiated by Saudi Arabia, which hosts the annual Arab summit in Jeddah in two weeks and hopes to kick off the meeting on a high note, according to diplomats close to the dossier.

“There is a strong desire [in Saudi Arabia] for this summit to usher in Syria's return”, said the diplomat in Cairo.

Some members of the Arab League, especially Qatar and Morocco, have opposed Damascus' return to the organization.

Yet, despite the differing opinions among member states, they are becoming more convinced that Syria's exclusion has done little to advance the cause, says an Arab diplomat in Beirut.

“A different approach towards Damascus was needed, and the Arab countries requested some positive measures from Al-Assad towards the opposition, yet he was very reluctant,” added the diplomat who served in Syria.

According to two sources who spoke to Ahram online Saturday, the Arab foreign ministers will stress "the need for Syria to take practical and effective steps towards a solution to the crisis per the UN approach of step-by-step and the UN resolution 2254”.

This approach, which will be included in the final resolution, has been approved by Damascus during the Amman meeting, earlier in May, which brought together the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria, and discussed the issues of refugees and drug trafficking, said the sources.

Besides discussing Syria’s potential readmission, the Sunday ministerial meeting will also issue a statement on the situation in Palestine, the death of a Palestinian prisoner in an Israeli prison, and the increasing repression by the occupation forces, Roshdy explained.

He further added that the Arab ministers will discuss the situation in Sudan.

Since the conflict erupted, the Arab League held meetings on the level of delegates. Roshdy also noted that "Sunday's meeting will discuss ways for member states to work collectively on ending the crisis". 



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