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Monday, January 24, 2022

Qatar blocking Syria’s return to Arab League: Syrian official

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The Gulf state has repeatedly expressed its refusal to normalise with the Bashar Al-Assad regime.

Qatar is among a number of countries standing in the way of Syria’s participation at the Arab League, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Bashar Jaafari said, according to a report by Lebanon-based Al Mayadeen on Wednesday.

“Without a doubt, Qatar is obstructing Damascus’ participation in the meetings of the Arab League,” said Jaafari, noting that the majority of Arab countries are in favour of Syria’s return.

The Syrian official accused countries standing in the way of Syria’s return to the bloc as  acting in accordance with “western agenda” without adding further clarification.

Syria’s membership was suspended at the height of the Arab Spring in 2011 after members gave the Al-Assad regime a deadline to stop its crackdown on peaceful protesters and demanded the Syrian president’s resignation.

Key mediator Qatar steps in to find political resolution for war-torn Syria

More than ten years on, the conflict has continued as Assad remains to grasp onto power despite ongoing flagrant human rights abuses committed against opposition members.

“We did not leave the Arab League because we are one of the founding countries,” said Jaafari, adding that Syria “does not accept that any condition is imposed on it to participate in the meetings”.

Jaafari’s comments come amid reports stating that the host of the upcoming Arab League meeting, Algeria, has been working on bringing back the Assad regime to the bloc after its membership was suspended.

Responding to those claims earlier this month, Qatar’s foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani reiterated that the causes behind the removal of Syria’s membership remain in place and cannot be achieved without taking “a serious step in reaching a political resolution”.

“I don’t think we’re in a position in allowing [the Syrian regime] to come to the Arab league,” the FM said in a joint presser with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

The Turkish foreign minister echoed Sheikh Mohammed’s sentiment, saying he believes reinstating Syria in the league would “embolden it to continue aggressions” in the country.

Qatar has been openly calling for Assad to step down since the very beginning of the 2011 uprisings.

Meanwhile, several Arab countries have appeared to adjust their foreign policies with the Assad regime in recent months, most notably the UAE and Jordan.

Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan was in Syria last month where he met with President Assad. Al-Nayhan was the most senior UAE official to visit the country.

In October, Jordan’s King Abdullah II received a phone call from Assad for the first time in a decade after Amman opened its border with Syria in a bid to boost economic cooperation between the two countries.

Meanwhile, the US imposed the toughest financial sanctions against the Assad regime last year under the “Caesar Act” that targeted businesses, individuals, and government institutions that deal with the Syrian administration.

The wife of the Syrian president Asma Al-Assad was among those sanctioned by the US and was described by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as “one of Syria’s most notorious war profiteers”.

According to the United Nations, the Syrian conflict has killed 350,000 civilians over the past decade.


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