Algeria foreign minister backs Syria regime's return to Arab League despite bloody crackdown

Algeria foreign minister backs Syria regime's return to Arab League despite bloody crackdown
Algeria voiced support for Syria's return to the Arab League, over a decade since it was expelled over the bloody repression of opposition protests.
3 min read
Lamamra said Syria's absence from the league harmed cooperation between Arab states [Getty]

Algeria’s foreign minister on Monday called for the Syrian regime to be returned to the Arab League during a visit to Damascus, during a meeting with President Bashar al-Assad.

Algeria will host the 2022 Arab League summit in November, and the Assad regime is eager to continue rekindle regional diplomatic relations.

A number of Arab states, such as the UAE, have recently normalised ties with the Assad regime, which is responsible for the vast majority of 500,000 plus killed in the Syria war.

Algeria has been one of the few Arab states to maintain official normalised ties with the regime during the war.

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"Syria’s absence from the Arab League harms cooperation between Arab countries," said Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra, speaking at a news conference with his Syrian counterpart, Faisal Mekdad.

"Syria is coordinating with Algeria and several Arab countries to revisit the status of Syria’s membership in the league," Mekdad said.

The UAE and Egypt are said to be leading the push among Arab states for the Syrian regime to be readmitted to the pan-Arab body.

Syria was expelled from the 22-member group and boycotted by its neighbors after the conflict broke out in March 2011, after the regime's brutal crackdown on protesters and then opposition areas, including the use of barrel bombs, double tap strikes, and chemical weapons.

Lamamra also met with Assad and delivered a letter from Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

Later, the Syrian Presidency Twitter page welcomed the visit.

"Strengthening brotherly ties between Syria and Algeria which are built on common principles and historical events which have brought together the two populations and brotherly countries, as well as achieving the desire to develop these relations - highlight from the meeting between President Assad and Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra," the tweet read.

"FM Lamamra handed over a message from President Abdelmadjid Tebboune regarding bilateral ties and the continuation of consultation and coordination between the two countries regarding challenges faced by the region, with the addition of the ongoing preparations for the holding of the Arab Summit in Algeria."

Last October, Jordan’s King Abdullah II received a call on Sunday from Assad, the first between the two leaders in a decade.

In March 2022, Assad visited the UAE, one of the Arab states keenest on readmitting Syria back into the Arab fold in an attempt to prise it away from Iranian influence.

Activists and analysts do not believe Assad will give up his close and long-standing relations with Iran - a critical partner in the war against the opposition - for closer ties with Gulf states, which are still viewed with suspicion by the regime's internal and external allies.

The UAE's attempts to broker ties with Assad have also been condemned by Syrians and human rights groups.