Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 July 2019

Arab Parliament urges Arab League to reinstate Syria

Egyptian newspapers have repeatedly called for Syria's renstatment

A general view of the Arab Foreign Ministers annual meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, 11 September 2018. EPA
A general view of the Arab Foreign Ministers annual meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, 11 September 2018. EPA

The Arab Parliament urged the Arab League on Friday to reinstate Syria's membership, which was suspended seven years ago after a crackdown on protesters at the start of the country's ongoing civil war.

The Arab Parliament's call is a sign that the Arab League may move to reinstate Syria after it was suspended in November 2011 in response to the Syrian government's violent attacks on protests.

For Syria to be reinstated, the Arab League must reach a consensus, though some Arab countries may express reservations but nevertheless allow the move.

Mahmoud Afifi, spokesman for Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit, told Reuters he had no further comment and referred to statements by Aboul Gheit on the issue.

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"The decision to suspend the Syrian seat in the Arab League was, in my opinion, a very hasty decision," Mr Aboul Gheit told UAE-based newspaper Al Bayan in April.

Egyptian state-run media outlets have repeatedly called for Syria's reinstatement over the last several months.

In an interview with The National in October, Mr Aboul Gheit said there would still be conditions that Syria had to meet for re-entry, but that the lack of an Arab seat at negotiations about the future of the country was troublesome.

“Arabs have to agree on an approach towards Syria. Until this moment, the Arab [nations] have not agreed. Some Arabs want Syria to be reinstated to the Arab League, others do not agree on taking that step until the government [in Damascus] adheres to specific conditions”.

The secretary-general says that the conditional re-entry for Syria is the most likely. “The government and opposition, the elements which are not terrorists, must agree on a new course in Syria [that is] based on a new constitution and new understanding of governance. In this instance, I do not think there would be any Arab objection to Syria taking its seat at the Arab League”.

The Arab Parliament headquarters was being built in Damascus and plans were to move the body to the Syrian capital until 2012 when the plan was shelved and was again housed in the Arab Leauge in Cairo. There are discussions about relocating it again from Cairo to Baghdad.

The body is made up of representative members of parliament from the 22 Arab League states. Unlike the league, the MPs appointed to the parliament are supposed to represent the entire Arab community and therefore their stance can, in theory, differ from the policy of their respective states.

Updated: December 15, 2018 08:30 AM

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