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Syria takes part in Arab League meeting – 1st time in over a decade

The Arab League in session (file photo)

Syria has attended a meeting of the Arab League for the first time in 12 years.

Eight months into the foreign-sponsored militancy in March 2011, the Arab League suspended Syria’s membership for what it called the Syrian government’s crackdown on opposition protests.

Syria is a founding member of the organization. Back then, Damascus said the move was “illegal and in violation of the organization’s charter.”

However, the Syrian armed forces, backed by Russia and Iran, eventually won back control of virtually all the regions once held by terrorist groups.

The achievement not only paved the way for reconstructing the country after over a decade of death and destruction, but also encouraged regional capitals to get closer to Damascus to restore relations.

On May 7, the 22-member intergovernmental organization ultimately agreed to welcome Syria back into the fold with immediate effect. Two days later, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz invited President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to attend the next summit scheduled to be held in the Persian Gulf kingdom on May 19. The last Arab League summit Assad attended was in 2010 in Libya.

Syrian officials attended a preparatory session in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah on Monday ahead of the Friday summit.

“I... take this opportunity to welcome the Syrian Arab Republic to the League of Arab States,” Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan told the meeting, which was broadcast live by state TV channel Al Ekhbariya.

The Saudi minister said he was “looking forward to working with everyone to achieve what we aspire to,” as the camera panned to the Syrian delegation.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) re-established ties with Syria in 2018 and has been leading the recent charge to reintegrate Damascus. Saudi Arabia, which for years championed Assad's ouster, confirmed last week that work would resume at the respective diplomatic missions.

A landmark China-brokered agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to resume ties has also tipped the regional political balance in favor of restoring ties with Damascus.

Separately on Monday, the Arab League's Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Syria's return could revive "the principle of Arab solidarity."

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