Arab League summit kicks off in Jeddah with Assad in attendance

Arab League summit kicks off in Jeddah with Assad in attendance
Stay updated with the latest news on The Arab League summit in Jeddah, which sees the Syrian regime attend for the first time in 12 years.
5 min read
19 May, 2023

The Arab League summit will begin today in the Saudi coastal city of Jeddah. Bashar Al-Assad will attend for the first time since 2011, having been suspended for over a decade due to his regime's killing of peaceful protesters.

Twelve years later and 500,000 Syrians have been killed in the war, the vast majority civilians as a result of regime bombing and massacres. 

While Saudi Arabia rolls out the purple carpet for Assad - having effectively restored bilateral ties with the Syrian regime - a few other Arab countries are hesitant about making amends, such as Qatar and Kuwait. 

The summit is also expected to discuss the ongoing conflicts in Sudan and Yemen.

Throughout the day, The New Arab will be posting updates on the summit, including the arrival of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and other developments from the region and afar.

Stay tuned for further updates.

5:00 PM
The New Arab Staff

It has been reported that Arab League members are discussing "at the highest level" a plan to send Syrian refugees back to their war-torn country, despite warnings from human rights groups of the dire consequences if they return.

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4:30 PM
The New Arab Staff

Hundreds of Syrians demonstrated across rebel-held northern Syria against Assad's participation in the Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia, chanting "The people want the fall of the regime". 

Read here for more info on protests erupting in rebel-held areas:

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4:00 PM
The New Arab

Qatar's Emir Tanim bin Hamad al-Thani reportedly left before Assad's address to the Arab league summit. 

Al-Thani, who in 2018 called Assad a "war criminal", left Jeddah after leading his country's delegation, according to a statement by Qatar's Emiri Diwan.

The statement was distributed while Assad was making his address.

3:00 PM
The New Arab Staff

As Assad flew to Saudi Arabia to attend the Arab League summit, Angeline Jolie sent a message for support for Syrian refugees. Coincidence? We'll let you be the judge of that.

2:30 PM
The New Arab Staff

While the Arab League summit goes on amid talks of peace, Israeli military use stun grenades and gas at the entrance of Temple Mount near the Lion's Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem.

More updates to come. 

2:00 PM
The New Arab Staff

"We are pushing occupiers out of our land. Anyone who defends his native land from invaders, and anyone who defends the children of his nation... is on the path of justice."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the Arab League summit:

1:15 PM
The New Arab Staff

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune will not attend the Arab Summit held in Saudi Arabia this Friday, but why is local media blaming Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky?

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12:40 PM
The New Arab Staff

The moment many Syrians have been dreading has now happened.

Bashar al Assad has entered the Arab League to a great fanfare from attendees, including Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who stopped Assad for a photo opportunity.

The Syrian regime's official twitter page tweeted Bashar al Assad officially arriving at the headquarters of the Arab Summit:

12:00 PM
The New Arab Staff

President Bashar al Assad met with Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan, Vice President of the UAE and head of the Emirati delegation participating in the Arab Summit:

11:40 AM
The New Arab Staff

President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Jeddah to attend the Arab League summit, where he is due to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other leaders and strengthen ties between Ukraine and the Arab world. 

11:30 AM
The New Arab Staff

Bashar Al-Assad has already met Tunisian President Kais Said, a man who has been slammed as a "dictator" by many Tunisian activists due to his recent power grab. 

A tweet from the Syrian Presidency's official twitter account confirmed the meeting and reads: 

"President Bashar al Assad met with Tunisian President Kais Said before his participation in the Arab summit, which begins in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The two presidents discussed bilateral relations between the two fraternal countries and bilateral cooperation in various fields."

10:30 AM
The New Arab Staff

The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs has officially and "warmly" welcomed the Syrian regime's President Bashar al Assad in a tweet that reads:

"Welcome, His Excellency President Bashar al Assad, President of the Syrian Arab Republic to participate in the Jeddah summit"

11:00 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Assad will attend the Arab League summit today, 12 years after the Syrian regime was suspended from the body for the mass killing of peaceful protestors. 

It comes after Arab nations took steps to normalise ties with the Syrian regime in recent years, despite continued anger from Syrians who have been victims of Assad's relentless barrel bombing, disappearances, and massacres. 

Read this story for an overview of Syria's return to the league.

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