Arab League looking to re-integrate Syria: report

Arab League looking to re-integrate Syria: report
3 min read
30 November, 2021
An Arab League official said there are some 'closed door' talks about re-integrating Syria into the Arab League after over a decade of boycott.
The Assad regime is notorious for its numerous massacres [Getty]

Arab leaders are trying to reintegrate Syria into the Arab League, as normalisation with the brutal regime led by dictator Bashar Al-Assad presses on.

In November 2011, Syria was suspended from the Arab League and had sanctions imposed on it over its violent crackdown on protests, which led to multiple massacres in the following years.

The move was hailed by anti-regime activists but was later regretted by some regional diplomats.

It now appears that the Syrian regime could be welcomed back into the Arab fold.

"That would take time and may not be in place in time for the Algeria summit in March [2022]," an official at the Cairo-based Arab League told UAE-based outlet The National.

For now, the idea of re-admitting Syria into the Arab League is only being dealt with "behind closed doors", the official said, with some members wanting to see a political agreement between the Assad regime and opposition groups before unfreezing Damascus' membership.

"Nine Arab foreign ministers have informed us that they feel that Syria's absence has hurt joint Arab endeavours and that Syria must be back sooner than later," the official explained. 

"The decision to suspend Syria's membership [in 2011] was hasty and contributed to the complexity of the situation in Syria."

Several Arab states including Jordan and the UAE have taken steps to normalise relations with the Assad regime in recent months and years.

Egyptian diplomatic sources told The New Arab's Arabic-language service Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that Cairo is in contact with Damascus and has made progress towards reintegrating Syria in the League through discussions with other Arab states.

Egypt pledged to work towards seeing Syria return to the Arab League following a meeting between Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad at the end of September, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. It was the first meeting between an Egyptian and Syrian foreign minister in 10 years.

The UAE re-opened its embassy in Damascus in December 2018 but powered through plans to enhance economic corporation this year. Earlier this month, the Assad regime announced that it had signed a contract with a group of companies from the UAE to build a solar power station in a Damascus suburb.

In September, Jordan fully reopened its main border crossing with Syria to boost its struggling economy.

By October, Jordan's King Abdullah II received a call from Assad, the first conversation between the two leaders in a decade.

Days after the phone call, Ahmed Hosni Hatouqay, the head of Jordan's intelligence department said his country's relations with Syria were continuing to move forward, despite highlighting the challenges still being faced on both sides.

Earlier this month, Algeria, a supporter of reinstating Syria to the Arab League, announced that it will be hosting the Arab Summit in March 2022.

"When we organise an Arab summit, it must be a unifying summit and Syria needs to be present," Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said last week.

Ramtane Lamamra, Algeria's foreign minister, said the Syria issue would be first and foremost on the agenda of the meeting, adding that Algiers saw eye-to-eye with other Arab countries supporting Damascus' return to the bloc.