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A Friend In Need

Lebanon recently made a serious attempt to readmit neighbouring Syria to Arab League in order to boost the economy of the war-ravaged West Asian nation.
During the recent Arab foreign ministers’ meeting in Beirut, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil urged his counterparts from other member-countries to restore Syria’s membership to the 22-member bloc. Speaking at the event, he said that the neighbouring countries should help Syria make a steady economic growth after years of diplomatic isolation. Bassil even described Syria’s absence in the regional economic summit as an historic shame, insisting that Damascus should be back “in our arms”.

It is to be noted that the Arab League had suspended Syria from the bloc in 2011 and slapped with sanctions after its brutal repression of anti-government protests. Later, the protests turned into a civil war that has claimed nearly 500,000 lives so far. In the presence of the Saudi minister, Bassil said that the Arab nations should help Damascus get rid of the Islamic State (IS) terrorists. “Syria should be in our arms rather than throwing it in the arms of terrorism,” he told the audience.
The Lebanese minister strongly criticised the US and its Western allies for isolating Syria, stressing: “We should not wait to get permission for its return so that we don’t commit an historic shame by suspending a member because of external orders.” He further urged the League members to stop the US and other global powers from dictating terms in Arab affairs.


Damascus

Interestingly, the Lebanese minister made the appeal shortly after Arab League Chief Houssam Zaki hinted that “Syria’s return is inevitable”, pointing out that Syria was never expelled, but suspended. However, Secretary General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul-Gheit claimed that there was no clear Arab position regarding reinstating Syria’s membership. “Until this moment, the condition is not ripe yet regarding the return of sisterly Syria to occupy its seat in the Arab League because there are different points of view,” he told the press.
Political experts believe that Bassil’s comments are aimed at countering the secretary general’s view on this issue. The Arab world is ready to counter the Western influence in West Asia and it would not be possible for the US and Europe to suppress Syria in the pretext of war against state-sponsored terrorism in near future!

In recent months, many Arab nations – including those which once backed armed groups against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – have taken necessary steps to reconcile with his government. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir became the first Arab leader to visit Damascus in mid-December since the war began. Later, the UAE reopened its embassy in the Syrian capital, while Bahrain announced that it would soon restore diplomatic mission in Syria.

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