Syria returns to Arab League after 12-year suspension

Sami Hegazi
7 Min Read

The Arab League announced on Sunday that it restored Syria’s membership and the country can participate in the meetings of the pan-Arab bloc, starting from 7 May 2023.

This came at an extraordinary meeting held by the Arab League at the level of foreign ministers in Cairo on Sunday.

The Arab League decided to “resume the participation of the Syrian government’s delegations in the Arab League’s meetings, as well as all organizations and bodies affiliated to it.

“The Arab League called for the need to take practical and effective steps to resolve the crisis according to the principle of step-by-step, in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 to continue efforts to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to all those in need in Syria.”

It also called for the formation of a ministerial liaison committee comprising Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, and the Secretary-General of the Arab League to follow up on the implementation of the Amman Agreement and to continue direct dialog with Damascus to reach a comprehensive solution to the crisis that addresses all its consequences.

The Arab League suspended Syria’s membership in November 2011 and imposed political and economic sanctions following the outbreak of violence in the country.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad last participated in the Arab League summit in Sirte, Libya, in 2010.

Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs of and Chairman of the 159th session of the Council of the Arab League at the ministerial level, announced that the Council of Arab Foreign Ministers decided to resume the participation of the delegations of the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic in the meetings of the Arab League and all its organizations and organs, as of 7 May 2023.

This came at a joint press conference held by the Foreign Minister with Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Sunday at the end of the three extraordinary meetings of the Arab League Council at the ministerial level; to discuss developments in Syria, Sudan and Palestine.

For his part, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, announced that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad can participate in the Arab Summit in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) if he wants to,. He added that, as of Sunday evening, Syria’s activity and participation in the Arab League have been fully restored.

As for Sudan, the League announced the formation of a committee consisting of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the secretary-general to communicate with the parties to the conflict in Sudan and the international community.

The League rejected any foreign interference in Sudanese affairs and sought a full and sustainable ceasefire.

Sameh Shoukry, Foreign Minister and Chairperson of the extraordinary meeting of Arab foreign ministers on Sudan, stressed the need for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in Sudan..

He stressed Egypt’s keenness to establish contacts with the Sudanese, regional and international parties to help Sudan get out of its current predicament and to provide an environment conducive to resolving differences through dialogue.

He said that Egypt is holding extensive contacts with all Sudanese actors, at the level of states and international organizations, to discuss ways to get out of the current crisis, the latest of which was contacting Chairperson of the Sudanese Transitional Sovereignty Council General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, and Commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) General Mohamed Hamdan to help Sudan out of its predicament and provide the appropriate environment to resolve differences through dialog.

He also stressed the need for an immediate, general and comprehensive ceasefire in the Sudan and ensuring its observance, in order to spare the blood of the Sudanese and to preserve the security and safety of civilians and the capabilities of the brotherly Sudanese people,

Shoukry warned of the seriousness of the current situation in Sudan and its regional and international repercussions, as well as the danger of the security situation sliding into a more dangerous situation for Sudan and its neighboring and surrounding countries.

“Since the beginning of the crisis, Egypt has welcomed more than 57,000 Sudanese brothers, in addition to its contribution to the evacuation of more than 4,000 foreign citizens, in addition to Egyptian nationals, more than 6,000, which reflects an important aspect of the crisis and its effects,” he added.

He also stressed the need to resort to dialogue to address the root causes of the crisis and resolve the differences that contributed to the outbreak of clashes.

Minister Shoukry stressed the necessity of non-interference in Sudan’s internal affairs, to deal with its current crisis as an internal Sudanese matter, and the need for any political process in Sudan to be comprehensive in addressing thorny and interlocking issues.

“Egypt stresses in this context that the cohesion of state institutions in Sudan must be preserved and that they must not be exposed to the risk of collapse, and that external interference in Sudanese affairs must be prevented in order to avoid fueling the conflict and threatening regional peace and security,” he added.

He stressed the importance of this meeting in order to take practical steps that bear positive marks on the course of joint Arab action, raising the aspirations of the Arab street in the face of the Sudanese challenges and crises.

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