The Secretary General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, has expressed optimism that Syria will rejoin the organization as a founding member during an upcoming summit in Saudi Arabia. In an interview with Asharq al-Awsat, Aboul Gheit stated that the return of Syria to the Arab League is “very likely” and will be carried out gradually. Arab leaders will convene in Riyadh on May 19 to discuss the matter, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may be invited to the summit once member states reach an agreement on the issue.
Recently, foreign ministers from Arab League member states met with their Syrian counterparts to discuss ways of normalizing diplomatic ties and reintegrating the country into the Arab fold. Jordan urged Damascus to work with other governments on a roadmap to end the crisis and address issues such as the refugee crisis and drug smuggling across the country’s borders. However, Qatar, Jordan, and Kuwait have voiced their opposition to inviting Assad to the May 19 summit in Jeddah, stating that it is a premature step unless Damascus agrees to negotiate a peace proposal.
Saudi Arabia, which recently reconciled with Iran, has adopted a new approach to Damascus and has stated that the time has come for a new approach to be taken toward the country. Syria was one of the Arab League’s six founding members in 1945, and there has been increasing support for lifting its suspension from the organization in recent months.