ALBAWABA - The world is eagerly waiting for the presence of Syrian President Bashar Assad at Arab League Summit, which is supposed to take place on May 19. The 32nd summit, with Syria participating in it the first time in more than 12 years, is expected to tip the scales of the 'political process' in the Middle East.
Syria, or Assad's Syria, began to regain its place in the Arab world after the two devastating earthquakes that occurred in February in Syria and Turkey, leaving thousands dead and injured. Arab countries then rushed to provide aid to Syria and its people.
However, some observers of the Syrian file believed that providing aid to Syria, especially since the aid will go to 'civilian' victims, will not make the Arab countries forget the "victims of the Syrian regime's war crimes". The Arab League defied their expectations and agreed to restore Syria's seat after nearly 12 hours of suspension.
Observers then believed that restoring the Syrian seat in the league, however, which happened under certain conditions (that Syria has to meet), and has not been publicly disclosed yet, would not give Assad the opportunity to attend the Arab League Summit.
The Arab League Summit is said to be an important event in the Arab world as it brings together leaders and representatives from Arab countries to discuss and address regional issues and challenges. It allows Arab leaders to coordinate their positions on international affairs and engage with other regional and global organizations.
Ultimately, the Arab League Summit plays a crucial role in shaping Arab regional policies, fostering unity and solidarity among Arab nations, and addressing the aspirations and concerns of the Arab people.
The Arab League defied expectations and invited the Syrian President to participate in the 2023 summit. The Saudi ambassador to Jordan, Nayef al-Sudairi, handed the invitation over to Assad a few days before the onset of the summit.
The invitation was surprising to some and slightly 'joyful' to others. Syria, which suffered for many years from a war that left tens of thousands of refugees, victims and injuries, and may have even exacerbated the economic crises of some countries hosting refugees, has returned once again to the Arab embrace as if nothing had happened.
The war, which began to demand the resignation of the Syrian president, between loyalists and opponents of his regime, seems to have failed with the 'survival' of Assad. This was not taken into account by some, especially since with the outbreak of the so-called "Arab Spring" many leaders stepping down from their posts, and Assad was expected to 'follow'.
Arab countries severed their relations with Syria after the protracted war. Even when 'few' countries restored their relations with Damascus, years later, this was described as "normalization" with the Arab rejection of that.
Qatar, for instance, one of the most important and economically powerful Arab countries, still refuses to restore Arab relations with Syria to this day. It stresses that the solution to restore stability to Syria "must satisfy the Syrian people."
Assad at Arab League Summit: opportunity for political communication with Syria
Jordan political analyst Amer al-Sabaileh said that the presence of the Assad at Arab League Summit is "one of the most important things that will happen at this summit".
"This will provide an opportunity to activate political communication with Syria at all levels", Sabaileh told ALBAWABA.
According to Sabaileh, several Syrian-related issues, most prominent of which is drug smuggling, would be discussed when political communication occurs.
The political analyst believes that Assad should put all difference aside and start searching for "serious solutions to the Syrian crisis through a collaborative process and Arab solidarity."
Assad at Arab League Summit: achieves personal interest and Syrian interest
Hassan Momani, a professor of international relations at the University of Jordan, believes that the participation of Assad at Arab League summit "resembles an official recognition of him as an Arab leader, given that the issue of the legitimacy of this has been questioned, regionally and internationally."
"In addition, his presence represents a great appreciation towards the countries hosting the summit, Saudi Arabia, which played a major role in integrating Syria with the Arab countries", Momani added.
There is no doubt that Assad's presence at the Arab League Summit will make a big difference to it this year. It can be said that the Syrian war has exacerbated the economic crisis, in particular, in the Middle East, and thus ending the war is something many countries will demand.
Reunifying Syria and bringing it back to the Arab embrace will not be an easy task, especially since large parts of it are still outside the control of the Syrian regime. However, working within a cooperative path will mitigate the impact of this matter.