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Real & Hopeful: Inviting Syria to Arab League Summit

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

Saudi Arabia’s coming-of-age decision to invite Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to an Arab League summit that Riyadh will be holding in May is a step in the right direction.

The action would mark an important step towards normalising Syria's relations with the surrounding nations. After Damascus was expelled from the Arab League in 2011, several of the group's members - including Saudi Arabia - supported the unsuccessful campaign to topple Assad.

The announcement follows the Syrian foreign minister's first trip to Egypt in more than ten years. According to a security source in Egypt, the objective of the trip was to promote Syrian membership in the Cairo-based Arab League through Saudi and Egyptian mediation. Syria and Saudi Arabia, whose official diplomatic relations have also been halted since 2011, have been having negotiations to normalise ties and are anticipated to do so shortly.

The US seeks to keep Syria isolated and subject to punishing economic sanctions, hence it is hostile to regional nations repairing relations with Syria. The majority of Syria's oil and wheat resources are located on its territory, which is also occupied by Washington to the tune of around one-third.

A severe earthquake that killed thousands of people in northwest Syria sparked a lot of the recent interaction between Syria and the surrounding nations. After the earthquake, the US State Department declared that it was against other nations improving their ties with Damascus, even if it was done to aid in disaster relief.

Due to its silence, the Arab League is jointly accountable for challenging the status quo about the fundamental causes of the degradation of human dignity, marginalisation, and oppression in Syria. The Arab League must cease pointing the finger at others for their own shortcomings in the war-torn country if they want to end the war and stop additional Syrian suffering.

The group needs to change a few things. The most difficult task is altering the toxic pro-regime change and pro-American narrative that is currently prevalent. The Arab League must also learn to confront and embrace the challenge of letting the Syrian people choose their own political and social future.

The people of Syria will not submit to occupation or manipulation by the US and its Arab go-betweens. The right to freedom and self-determination is a human reality, not a problem that needs to be solved, according to the UN Charter. That must also be respected when the Arab League convenes in May.


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