Arab League hints at Syria's impending return
Updated 20:48, 31-Mar-2019
Mahmoud Saad Diab

Editor's note: Mahmoud Saad Diab is a journalist at Al-Ahram and a specialist in international relations. The article reflects the author's opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

Hossam Zaki, assistant secretary-general of the Arab League, hinted Wednesday at Syria's possible return to the pan-Arab body, according to Egypt's MENA news agency.

Syria's membership in the Cairo-based league has been suspended since 2011, when the Assad political machine cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity, triggering eight years of conflict.

The return of Syria to its seat in the Arab League has been demanded by a large number of member states but it hasn't happened as yet.

This is despite U.S. President Donald Trump's proclamation recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, which requires Arab solidarity with Syria to fight the legalization of the occupation of that part of Syria.

In February 2019, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, secretary general of the Arab League, said there is no consensus among member states on the return of Syria, adding that a decision does not require a meeting or summit but may be taken by consensus.

The Arab arena is witnessing divisions among countries over the decision to return Syria to the strongest Arab organization in the region, despite the consolidation of a number of countries, such as the UAE, of their relations with Damascus after years of estrangement.

Abu Dhabi decided to reopen its embassy in Damascus and Saudi Arabia has taken other steps toward rapprochement with Syria, but some countries have kept their positions, such as Qatar and Kuwait, and others, particularly Egypt and Morocco, say they are committed to neutrality.

A view outside the Tunisian capital Tunis' Conference Palace, where the 30th session of the Arab League summit is to take place, March 31, 2019. /VCG Photo

A view outside the Tunisian capital Tunis' Conference Palace, where the 30th session of the Arab League summit is to take place, March 31, 2019. /VCG Photo

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said Syria must take several measures to reform the political system before it is eligible to return. This comes despite the presence of security and military coordination between Egypt and Syria regarding the Egyptian fighters in the ranks of terrorist groups. And the Egyptians will not be allowed to return to their homes.

The Arab League spokesman Mahmoud Afifi denied the existence of U.S. pressure to postpone the decision on Syria, stressing that the decision must be taken by Arab foreign ministers first and then ratified by the general secretariat of the League. He added that the Syrian crisis and Trump decision on the Golan Heights will feature prominently during the ongoing Arab summit in Tunisia.

The Syrian army achieved military victories over the course of eight years, the age of the Syrian crisis, in many places in the territory of Syria, and took away areas that had been obtained by terrorist organizations such as Daesh and the Nusra Front, with the help of Russia and Iran, which have called for a number of countries to return Syria to League of Arab States, as the conflict was virtually at an end.

Syria needs the solidarity of the Arab states in the face of international legalization of Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights, in confronting Turkey's occupation of areas in northern Syria such as Afrin, and also preventing any foreign military presence on its territory after the withdrawal of the United States from Syria at the end of January 2019, as well as Syria's pursuit of Arab pressure to prevent some Arab countries financing armed terrorist groups fighting the Syrian army and working to create chaos and terror.

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