Assad’s allies in Lebanon are pushing for Syria's return to the Arab League

They are hoping Syria’s participation in an Arab economic conference in Beirut will quicken its return to the Arab fold

Supporters of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah attend on August 31, 2017 a rally in Baalbek to celebrate the return of its fighters after fighting a week-long offensive against the Islamic State (IS) group on Syria's side of the Lebanese border. 
The head of Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, who has lived in hiding for a decade, said he had travelled to Damascus to seek the Syrian president's approval for a jihadist evacuation deal, where hundreds of Islamic State group fighters and civilians were evacuated from the border region between Lebanon and Syria under a ceasefire deal and headed toward eastern Syria near the Iraqi border. The truce deal was negotiated between IS and Hezbollah, which has intervened in Syria's six-year war to prop up Assad's government.
 / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER
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Lebanese allies of President Bashar Assad are advocating for Syria to return to the Arab League, by urging Lebanon’s government to invite Damascus to the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit in Beirut this month.

Hezbollah said that Lebanon's northern neighbor should take part in the event at a time when a push to reinstate Syria’s membership in the Arab League is gaining momentum.

Last month, the United Arab Emirates reopened its embassy in Damascus for the first time in seven years, Bahrain said it will soon restore its mission to the country and Sudanese President Omar Bashir visited Damascus in the first official visit by an Arab League leader since the start of the war.

A statement issued by Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc following a weekly meeting on Thursday said that Lebanon should leverage the reconciliatory attitudes of Arab states to quicken Syria’s reintegration into the Arab fold.

“Current developments are creating a positive Arab atmosphere that is seeing Arab states rushing back to Damascus,” read the statement carried by the state-run National News Agency.

“As Syria’s closest neighbour and considering the country’s interests, Lebanon should be at the forefront of efforts to reinforce and strengthen this atmosphere,” the statement said, urging officials to extend an invite.

Hezbollah is the second Lebanese ally of Mr Assad to urge the Lebanese government to invite Damascus to the forum, which will bring together member states of the Arab League.

Earlier this week, Acting Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, a member of the pro-Assad Amal Movement said that Lebanon should "correct its official position towards Syria" by inviting the country to participate.
"Any summit without Syria would be meaningless," he told reporters.

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Lebanon’s official policy toward the war next door is “dissociation”- a term used by the government to underscore a position of neutrality towards the conflict. However, since the start of the Syrian war, Lebanese political groups have been as divided as the warring Syrian factions themselves.

Hezbollah made its support for the Syrian government abundantly clear and even sent fighters to the country to defend the Syrian government. On the other hand, Lebanon’s largest Sunni bloc, and Hezbollah’s primary rival, the Future Movement, openly sided with the Syrian opposition and supported international calls to overthrow the government in Damascus.

Hezbollah on Thursday said the restoration of diplomatic ties between the Arab world and Damascus marked a victory for the Lebanese resistance.

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