Syria is allowed to return to the Arab League : NPR
CAIRO – Arab government representatives in Cairo voted Sunday to return Syria to the Arab League after a 12-year suspension, according to the group.
The vote in the Egyptian capital came days after top regional diplomats met in Jordan to discuss a road map to return Syria to the Arab fold as the conflict continues to rage. going down, and shortly before Saudi Arabia hosts the upcoming Arab League Summit on May 19.
Syria’s membership of the Arab League was suspended 12 years ago early in the revolution-turned-conflict, which has killed nearly half a million people since March 2011 and half of the country’s population of 23 million by to eliminate war.
All 13 of the 22 member states present at the session supported the decision. The Arab League usually tries to reach agreements by consensus but sometimes they opt for a simple majority.
There is still no Arab consensus on normalization with Damascus. Several governments were not present at the meeting. Among the most notable absentees was Qatar, which continues to support opposition groups against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and continues to oppose normalization with Damascus.
The decision to return to Syria also includes a commitment to continued dialogue with Arab governments to reach a gradual political solution to the conflict, according to Resolution 2254 from the United Nations Security Council. The Arab League in the decision also established a communication committee made up of Saudi Arabia and Syria’s neighbors Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq to continue the developments.
In addition to promises for a gradual resolution of the conflict, the decision also welcomed the willingness of the Syrian government to cooperate with Arab countries to resolve the “humanitarian, security and political” crisis affecting Syria and the region as a result of the conflict – namely refugees, “the threat of terrorism and drug smuggling.”
Many expected Syria to return to the group soon. The Arab rapprochement with Damascus accelerated after a deadly earthquake on February 6 that tore apart parts of the war-torn country, particularly from Saudi Arabia, which supported opposition groups trying to oust Assad.
Before the meeting, Egyptian Foreign Minister Samer Shoukry said that only an Arab-led “political solution without foreign orders” can end the ongoing conflict, restore the unity and stability of Syria and allow refugees and those who are internally displaced return.
“The different stages of the Syrian crisis have proven that it has no military solution, and that there is no winner or victory in this conflict,” he said.
As Assad regained control of most of the country with the help of key allies Russia and Iran in recent years, some of Syria’s neighbors that were hosting large numbers of refugees steps to re-establish diplomatic ties with Damascus. At the same time, the Gulf monarchies of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain re-established ties.
The February 6 earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria was the catalyst for further normalization across the Arab world, including regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran re-establishing ties in Beijing, which was has supported opposing sides in the conflict.
Jordan last week held regional talks that included envoys from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, and Syria. They agreed on a framework, known as the “Jordan campaign,” which would slowly bring Damascus back into the Arab fold. Amman’s top diplomat said the meeting was “the beginning of an Arab-led political path” to resolving the crisis.
The conflict in Sudan is also on the agenda, as Arab governments try to stabilize a shaky ceasefire in the ongoing fighting that has killed hundreds of people over the past few weeks .