What would Syria return to Arab League mean?

Alwaght – Over the past two years, the Syrian government made serious advances on the military stage by inflicting decisive defeats on the Western and Arab front-backed terrorist groups who planned to split the country. The major victories over the militias improved the Damascus position and blocked the way of the success of efforts of enemies of President Bashar al-Assad to isolate and de-legitimize his government. Now the Syrian government is fast restoring its international place and prestige in the eyes of the foreign states and organizations. The frequent visits of foreign delegations to the Syrian capital to meet the Syrian leaders over the past few months bear witness to Damascus stature restoration.

The improvement of Damascus status seems to even gain further pace. On Friday, the Arab Parliament urged the Arab League to reinstate Syria, a call that will very effectively help Syria normalize its ties with the Arab world. Arab League suspended the membership of Syria, itself a founding member of the Arab body, shortly after the eruption of the conflict in 2011. The decision led to banning Syria from all activities of the bloc and for a short time gave Damascus seat to the opposition.

The demand by the Arab Parliament, a key subset of the Arab League, which was formed in 2001 during the Arab leaders’ meeting in Oman and up to 2012 was hosted by Damascus, is largely important with respect to the effects and political messages it sends.

Arab League creeps out of Riyadh dominance

During over seven decades of Arab League life, the decisions and approaches of the bloc, mainly ineffective, have been influenced by the balance of power and the tendencies of the weighty members. Up to the end of the rule of President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, the leadership of the 22-member body was held tightly by Cairo. But the fall of Egypt politically and militarily under President Anwar Sadat, who adopted the policy of normalization with the Israeli regime and signed the Camp David peace accord with Tel Aviv, changed the power order in the League. Cairo was expelled from the Arab League after the peace deal with Tel Aviv.

These developments in Egypt coincided with the economic rise of the oil-rich Persian Gulf Arab states. The petrodollars began to flow from the wealthy states, on top of them Saudi Arabia, to the Arab organization.

When the Islamic awakening period, sparked by popular uprisings in North Africa and Arab states, started in 2011, Saudi Arabia, flouting the Arab League manifesto of non-interference in the member states’ affairs, began to abuse its sway over the body to influence the course of the developments in the other Arab countries.

At the time, Riyadh, and Doha, apparently swayed the Arab League decisions. The two played a game of interests. While they strongly collided with Libya and Syria, both adopting independent policies, and gave the word to the opponents of the two countries, Riyadh and Doha took a different path in dealing with Bahrain and Yemen uprisings. They aided the highly repressive regimes in the two countries simply because the despots ruling Sana’a and Manama were their allies.

But the belligerent foreign policy of the Saudi rulers did not help promote Riyadh’s position in the region. On the contrary, the Arab kingdom emerged a loser from many regional conflicts, in Syria, Yemen, Palestine, Lebanon, and Qatar. This setback contributed to the agenda of the Arab states which rebelled against Saudi Arabia’s divisive and destabilizing policies in the region. The rebellion against Riyadh is growing so strong that now voices shout the need for Syria to be restored to the League, to Riyadh’s frustration.

Saving Syrian unity

Without a shadow of a doubt, the US-led Western alliance through its military intervention in Syria pursued three major goals: Partitioning Syria to permanently eliminate the Damascus threat to the Israeli regime, cutting the chain linking the members of the Axis of Resistance which stretches from Iran to Lebanon, and removing Syria from the circle of Russian allies in the West Asia region. But the plan is meeting its failure on the battlefield as the Syrian government, backed by such staunch allies as Russia, Iran, and Lebanese Hezbollah, is reclaiming lands and driving the West’s proxies out of the cities. Now the road is open for Syria to restore its role in regional and international organizations like Arab League– if Damascus decides to rejoin–, and that means the partition project will be history.

Foiling efforts to de-legitimize Assad

With the project to topple the Syrian government by the help of the terrorist groups failed, the interventionist sides now try to occupy lands to bolster their bargaining power in the Syria future talks to maneuver for removing the current Damascus government. The US seriously follows this objective. It is using its diplomatic, propagandistic, and economic potentials to realize it.

Recently, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations said that the American lawmakers will push the administration for devising a strategy for Syria that will enable Washington to oust President Assad from power and force Damascus allies out of the war-ravaged country. But the Arab Parliament demand is a hard strike on the US and its allies’ efforts to paint Assad government illegitimate and isolated on the regional and global stage. Here is the Arab Parliament call’s translation on the ground: Now, further Arab states acknowledge Assad’s role in saving Syria’s unity and obliterating the licentious terrorism.

Intra-Arab division hits the Arab League after Cooperation Council

The Arab League has failed to materialize its most fundamental goal of reaching inter-member convergence. This inability now transforms to deep gaps between the members as a result of the new regional order that brings about new alliances. The League is undergoing an experience of division similar to the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council. The division’s most apparent face is the resistance of some of the states to the overbearing and hegemonic policies of Riyadh. The defiant states can prospectively grow into a bloc opposing the reduction of the Arab League’s role to a loudspeaker of Saudi and American policies.