Arab efforts “to help Syria out of its crisis”

FILE: SANA-President Bashar al-Assad received President of the Arab Parliamentary Union, Speaker of the Council of Representatives of Iraq in Feb 2023.

A shift of attitude and approach toward Syria in the Arab world, most recently seen in their readmitting the country back to the Arab League (AL), could usher in a speedier political settlement of the Syrian crisis, experts say.

Arab foreign ministers decided in an AL extraordinary meeting held in Cairo recently to restore Syria’s membership in the league after 12 years of suspension.

The meeting decided to resume “the participation of delegations of the government of Syria in the meetings of the AL council and all its organizations and bodies as of May 7, 2023,” read the statement issued by the pan-Arab organization.

The Arab foreign ministers also agreed to intensify efforts “to help Syria out of its crisis.”

Restoring Syria’s membership at the AL was the focus of a recent foreign ministerial meeting between Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt and Syria in Jordan’s capital Amman, as part of the Jordan-initiated Arab normalization process with Syria, whose AL membership was suspended in 2011.

Gulf Cooperation Council states, as well as Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq held a similar ministerial meeting in mid-April in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to discuss Syria’s return.

A couple of days after the meeting, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud paid a visit to Damascus, marking the first visit of a Saudi official to Syria in 12 years.

Soon after, the Syrian foreign ministry issued a statement responding to the AL admission, saying “Syria has been following the positive trends and interactions that are currently taking place in the Arab region, and believes that these benefit all Arab countries and favor the stability, security, and well-being of their peoples.”

It stressed that the next stage requires a practical and constructive Arab approach based on dialogue, mutual respect, and the common interests of the Arab nation.

Political experts in Syria also read the new development in the Arab arena as a positive and vital shift in the Arab attitude toward Syria and its civil war.

Osama Danura, a political expert, told Xinhua that the change reflects that Arab countries are acknowledging that combating terrorism and rejecting foreign intervention, and other factors are key to the solution of the Syrian crisis.

Danura saw Syria’s return to the Arab world as a move that “cuts the road” ahead of foreign intervention, which indicates a good start for constructive economic, social, and political relations among the Arab states themselves and with other regional countries.

“The Arabs could be facilitating in helping Syria reach the political solution, and it would be welcomed here if no foreign agenda was involved,” Danura noted.

Since late last year, the wind of change in the region could be felt as a flurry of diplomatic activities to bring Syria back from isolation to the Arab fold have taken place.

The United Arab Emirates has been spearheading the efforts to break the ice between Syria and Saudi Arabia following years of severed ties, and made a breakthrough this year that saw the two countries restoring diplomatic relations and foreign ministers visiting each other.

He expected that the region is unfolding a new stage in which “dismantling the regional clash, restoring the minimum level of the Arab consensus, and achieving a win-win situation” would be the theme.

Mohammad al-Omari, a political expert and writer, told Xinhua that today the Arab countries seem to shelve differences and embark on a new era of understanding and consensus.

He believes Syria is now in the second half of the political solution considering the changes in the Arab world toward Syria.

“The return of Syria to the Arab League doesn’t mean resolving the Syrian crisis, but it should facilitate and accelerate the mechanisms of the solution,” he said. ■

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