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Video: Syria attends its first meeting of the League of Arab States since 2011


A Syrian delegation headed by the Minister of Economy participated on Monday in a preparatory meeting that precedes the Arab summit scheduled for Friday in Jeddah, in the first participation of Syria in the meetings of the League of Arab States after more than 11 years of the decision to suspend its membership, according to scenes broadcast by the official Saudi news channel.

On May 7, the League of Arab States decided to resume the participation of Syrian government delegations in its meetings, more than a decade after the suspension of Damascus’ membership, following its suppression of the protests, which turned into a bloody conflict that claimed the lives of more than half a million people and displaced more than half of the population inside and outside the country.

A few days later, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received an official invitation from Saudi King Salman to participate in the Arab Summit to be held in Jeddah on Friday. Last week, Saudi Arabia and Syria announced the resumption of their diplomatic missions.

At the outset of the meeting of the Economic and Social Council preparatory to the summit in Jeddah, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said, “I also take this opportunity to welcome the return of the Syrian Arab Republic to the League of Arab States, looking forward to working with everyone to achieve what the leaders and peoples aspire to.”

Scenes broadcast by the official Saudi news channel from inside the meeting showed the Syrian diplomatic delegation headed by Minister of Economy Muhammad Samer Al-Khalil occupying Syria’s seat for the first time in an Arab League meeting since November 16, 2011.

The decision to restore the participation of government delegations in the meetings of the Arab League ended the diplomatic isolation imposed by several Arab countries since the beginning of the conflict on Damascus, which is looking today for reconstruction funds.

Al-Assad’s participation in the Friday summit will be the first since his last appearance at the Sirte summit in Libya in 2010, less than a year before the outbreak of the conflict in his country.

Syria’s return to the Arab embrace also coincides with a change in the regional political map after the agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the most important ally of Damascus, on which hopes are pinned for the return of stability in a region that has long been shaken by proxy conflicts.

Following the outbreak of the conflict, several Arab countries severed diplomatic relations with Damascus, expelling it from the Arab League in November 2011.

Several countries, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, supported the political and armed opposition, especially during the first years of the conflict, and called for regime change in Syria.

During the past few weeks, the foreign ministers of nine Arab countries met in Jeddah to discuss the issue of Syria, and then five ministers, including the Syrian foreign minister, met in Amman for the same issue.

However, the decision to reintegrate Syria into its Arab surroundings is not unanimous.

Qatar, the outspoken opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, announced that it would not normalize relations with the Damascus government, but also confirmed that it would not be an “obstacle” to the step taken by the Arab League.

Qatar provided great support to Syrian opposition groups that took over the management of the Syrian embassy in Doha.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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