Saudi Arabia is Expected to Invite Bashar Al-Assad to Arab League Summit in May

According to a Press TV report, Saudi Arabia has plans of inviting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to an Arab League summit hosted by the Saudis in May.

This represents a major diplomatic breakthrough among Arab states who have largely isolated Syria over a decade ago.

Three sources who know about the plan claim that Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan will head to Damascus to deliver  Assad a formal invitation to participate in the Arab League summit on May 19.

One of the three anonymous sources, asserted that discussions have been going on for over a year and the Saudis have put forward a list of demands that the Syrian government must comply with as a condition to fix ties, which includes tightening cooperation on border security and combating drug trafficking.

One source even claimed that initial discussions for a visit by Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud to Damascus or by Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad to Riyadh were put on hold due to the earthquakes that rocked Syria and Turkey in February.

In March, Saudi Arabia and Syria reached an agreement to reopen their embassies and restore consular services prior to the month of Ramadan.

Contacts between Saudi Arabia and Syria have grown stronger after the diplomatic breakthrough between Iran and Saudi Arabia in March. In a similar vein, Egypt restored contacts with Syria. Mekdad met up with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on April 1, 2023 in Cario to talk about strengthening bilateral relations in addition to the latest regional and international developments.  

The Arab League was founded in 1945 and Syria was one of the six founding members of the Arab League. Over the last few months, a growing number of countries have called for Syria to be brought back into the Arab League’s fold. 

Since 2011, Syria has had to confront a foreign-backed uprising, which has seen terrorist organizations such as ISIS and Al-Nusra step into the mix to create further chaos. 

The Arab League suspended Syria’s membership in November 2011, alluding to an alleged crackdown by the Syrian government on protests organized by opposition movements. Syrian authorities have criticized the move as “illegal and a violation of the organization’s charter.”

In the multipolar order, Syria and the broader Arab World will likely lose trust in the US and start cooperating among themselves and even bolstering ties with Eurasian actors such as China and Russia. With the US acting like such an erratic actor on the world stage, it pays for Arab countries to have as many geopolitical options on the table as far as strategic partnerships are concerned. 

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