Syria Returns to Arab League After 12 Years
Orinoco Tribune, May 20, 2023 —
Syria has officially returned to the Arab League with the participation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the 32nd Arab League summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Friday, May 19.
On May 7, the Arab League announced the readmission of Syria after the country’s membership had been suspended 12 years ago with the start of the US-backed proxy war.
Before the ceremony started, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman warmly welcomed Assad.
Other regional leaders who participated in the summit included Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani, UAE Vice President Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Tunisian President Kais Saied, and Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, among several others.
Before the summit started, the Syrian president talked with his Tunisian counterpart to improve bilateral political and economic relations and cooperation as well as cultural ties.
“Syria and Tunisia stand together against the obscurantist ideology, as they share an issue of intellect, consciousness, and belonging, which is targeted by the outside,” Assad told Tunisina President Saied.
“You are our brothers, and what hurts you hurts us, Syria is our country, and there were many Tunisians who resorted to Syria during the period of the French colonial,” the Tunisian leader said in return.
Saied also expressed his country’s great satisfaction with Syria’s achievements in its fight against terrorism and external interference.
“The aim was to divide Syria into different entities, but the Syrian people never accepted interference in their affairs, they have shown that they are sovereign in making their decisions,” he said.
Tunisia was among a majority of Arab states that severed relations with Syria in the wake of Washington’s covert war on Syria that began in 2011. However, in recent months, Tunisia was among the first to reverse that decision and mend bilateral ties.
Assad hails “historic opportunity” for the region
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in his speech at the summit, highlighted the opportunity that the region faces in rearranging its position away from Western dominance and interference.
“Today we are facing a historic opportunity to change the international situation that appears in the form of a unipolar world, a result of the dominance of the West, which lacks all ethics and principles,” the Syrian president said.
According to him, this opportunity requires the Arab World to reposition itself and invest “in the positive atmosphere of reconciliation that preceded today’s summit,” referring to recent diplomatic endeavors which resulted in Saudi Arabia’s resumption of ties with Iran and Syria.
Regarding the turmoil in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and other parts of the region, Assad said that one cannot treat a disease by merely attempting to ease symptoms, but instead by addressing the root cause.
“The most important thing is to leave the internal issues of countries to its people, as they are the ones who are able to manage their affairs,” he stressed. “We only have to prevent external interference in their countries and help them exclusively upon request.”
He also thanked the Arab heads of state who wished Syria well, reciprocating warm messages and thanking Saudi Arabia for its “efforts to promote reconciliation in the region.”
“Syria is the beating heart of Arab identity and… the core of Arabism,” Assad concluded.
Message to the international community
Algerian Prime Minister Ayman bin Abdel Rahman took the opportunity to call on the international community to assume its responsibilities towards the Palestinian people.
“We must not only put an end to the intransigence of the occupier and force it to implement the resolutions of international legitimacy, but also put an end to the illegal settlement policy and stop all its crimes,” the Algerian PM said.
Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Muhammad bin Salman Al Saud announced, “We welcome the attendance of President Bashar al-Assad at this summit. We hope that Syria’s return to the Arab League leads to the end of its crisis.”
“We will not allow our region to become a field of conflict; therefore we call upon everyone to turn the page of the past whereby our development process faltered,” he added.
Joint statement calls for ending foreign interference
The joint declaration of the 32nd Arab League summit called for an end to foreign interference in the region and reaffirmed its support for Palestinian liberation.
“We call for stopping foreign interference in the domestic affairs of Arab countries and categorically reject all support for the formation of armed groups and militias outside the scope of state institutions,” the joint statement read.
It also stressed that the Israeli occupation of Palestine remains “one of the key factors of stability in the region” and condemns “in the strongest terms the practices and violations targeting Palestinians in their lives, property and existence” while calling for the formation of a sovereign Palestinian state “on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
The statement also hailed the decision made by regional leaders to welcome Syria back into the Arab League.
“We stress the importance of continuing to intensify pan-Arab efforts aimed at helping Syria overcome its crisis in line with the joint Arab efforts and brotherly relations that connect all Arab peoples,” the statement stressed.
This Arab League summit took place amid continued US and Turkish occupation of significant portions of Syrian territory, while extremist armed groups continue to operate illegally in northern parts of the country. It also comes in the midst of an escalation of Israeli state violence against Palestine, a global refugee crisis, and continued efforts by Syria to repatriate its citizens despite obstruction from several Western countries.