After 12 years, Syria has officially been approved to rejoin the Arab League as relations continue to normalize with the Assad government. On Sunday, the 13 attending member states in Cairo voted unanimously in support of the decision, just days after a delegation met in Jordan to prepare a path for Syria’s readmittance.
Syria was removed from the League in 2011, following the onset of the Syrian Civil War, which has since seen Syria ostracized from the world. Now, however, with a government victory essentially assured, the world has begun to accept the government led by President Bashar al-Assad. These efforts were also largely spurred on by the united Arab assistance to Turkey and Syria following the devastating February 6 earthquake.
The two major players in the region, Saudi Arabia and Iran, who backed opposing sides in the Syrian Civil War, also separately visited Syria recently to boost relations and establish economic agreements, following a Chinese-brokered deal in April to reestablish relations between the two rivals.
The United States and the United Kingdom have stated they will not normalize relations with Syria, referring to it as a “rogue” state.
Part of the agreement was to ensure an Arab-led and gradual resolution to the war in Syria, following United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254. A committee made up of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq will be set up to help Syria stabilize following the Civil War, attempting to resolve it’s issues with drug smuggling, refugee displacement, and poverty.
Before the meeting, Egyptian Foreign Minister Samer Shoukry stated that only an Arab-led “political solution without foreign dictates” can end the crisis in Syria. “The different stages of the Syrian crisis proved that it has no military solution, and that there is no victor nor defeated in this conflict,” he added.
Despite the agreement, some of the countries in the Arab League did not attend the vote, most notably Qatar, which continues to resist normalization and support Syrian rebel groups. Jordan and Kuwait agreed, noting that normalizing relations before the Assad government agreed to peace terms would be unwise.
Syria will be attending the Arab League Summit in Saudi Arabia on May 19 as a full member.