Syria wants Arab League readmission taken off summit agenda

Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said the question of the country reclaiming its seat in the organisation should not be tabled for the sake of Arab unity

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad. EPA
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Arab League members should not discuss Syria's readmission into the 22-nation organisation at the group's summit in November, the country's foreign minister has told his Algerian counterpart.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad spoke to Ramtane Lamamra by phone ahead of the Arab League summit to be held in Algiers. Syria‘s Arab League membership was suspended after the start of its civil war in 2011.

“Syria’s top diplomat said his country prefers that the question of it reclaiming its Arab League seat during the Algiers summit not be tabled for the sake of Arab unity given the challenges posed by current regional and international conditions,” Mr Lamamra's office said.

The Algiers summit is due to start on November 1 and to last for two days. Relations between the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad and many other Arab nations have improved after years of tension over Damascus’s perceived heavy-handed tactics against its foes in the war.

Syria was suspended from the Arab League in November 2011, eight months after anti-government protests erupted. The decision to suspend its membership was meant to punish Mr Assad’s regime for failing to end the bloodshed caused by its brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

Syria’s civil war has killed hundreds of thousands of people, displaced half the country’s population and left large swathes of the country destroyed.

However, there have been calls from several Arab nations, including regional heavyweight Egypt, for Syria to be readmitted into the Arab League as the government has regained control over most of the country, thanks to military assistance from allies Russia, Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah.

“Syria’s return to the Arab League as a stable and active state will be vital for maintaining Arab national security,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said last year.

Updated: September 05, 2022, 4:47 PM