The Arab League, a 22-member intergovernmental organization of Arab states, on Sunday agreed to welcome Syria back into the fold with immediate effect after more than a decade.
The decision was made by Arab foreign ministers during a closed-door meeting in the Egyptian capital Cairo on Sunday, media reports said, defying diktats issued by the US and some of its allies.
An Egyptian diplomat told the Abu Dhabi-based The National newspaper that the return was “conditional,” adding that Syria’s full membership of the Arab League was dependent on the return of Syrian refugees without retributions and a credible political process in the country.
Earlier, the Lebanese foreign minister attached great importance to Syria’s return to the Arab League, saying his country supports the process.
Abdullah Bou Habib made the remarks before leaving Beirut for Cairo to attend the meeting of top Arab diplomats, Lebanon's online newspaper el-Nashra reported on Sunday.
Bou Habib also said that Lebanon has submitted proposals to the Arab League regarding Syria’s return to the Arab fold.
Arab League envoys back Syria’s readmission
Saudi media reported that permanent representatives at the Arab League Council supported Syria’s return to the pan-Arab body during a meeting on Saturday.
Citing an unnamed diplomatic source, the Saudi daily Okaz said Saturday’s meeting saw overwhelming support for resumption of Syria’s participation in the Arab League meetings.
“The decision on Syria’s return to its vacant seat in the Arab League lies in the hands of Arab foreign ministers. It will be decided in two extraordinary sessions in Cairo on Sunday,” the source was quoted as saying.
The al-Arabiya TV channel also raised the possibility of Syria’s readmission to the bloc.
On Friday, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told CNN that there are enough votes among Arab League members for Syria to return to the organization.
The Arab world, he added, is now taking the lead on resolving the Syria crisis, as “there was no effective effort” so far to do so.
"The return to the league will happen. Symbolically it will be important but ... that is only a very humble beginning of what will be a very long and difficult and challenging process, given the complexity of the crisis after 12 years of conflict," Safadi noted.
Since March 2011, Syria has been gripped by a campaign of militancy and destruction sponsored by the US and its allies.
In recent years, however, Syrian government forces, backed by Russia and Iran, have managed to win back control of almost all regions from terrorist groups.
The Arab League suspended the membership of Syria - one of the organizations’s founding members - in November 2011, citing an alleged crackdown by Damascus on opposition protests. Syria denounced the move as “illegal and a violation of the organization’s charter.”
In recent months, an increasing number of countries and political parties have called for the reversal of Syria’s suspension from the Arab League.