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Arab League suspends talks with Syria regime amid failure to address regional issues - reports

September 28, 2023 at 5:13 pm

Leaders and officials pose for a family photo ahead of the 32nd Arab League Summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on May 19, 2023 [Royal Court of Saudi Arabia – Anadolu Agency]

The Arab League has reportedly suspended its talks with the Syrian regime of Bashar Al-Assad, amid Damascus’s apparent failure to curb rampant narcotics trafficking and to resolve the issue of refugees in the region.

According to numerous media reports over the past week, which cited anonymous Arab diplomatic sources, the Arab League’s ministerial committee has suspended its meetings with representatives from the Syrian regime.

The Saudi newspaper, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat , for example, had reported last week that the League’s ministerial committee ceased its meetings after talks between Lebanon and Syria regarding the return of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees had broken down. It also reported that the  Assad regime refused to cooperate with the Arab states’ demands for the trafficking of narcotics, such as Captagon, to be tackled.

The Russian state-owned outlet, RIA Novosti, also cited an “informed source” as saying that the Arab League committee had “frozen contacts with representatives” from Damascus, claiming that it was due to “direct pressure from the United States government”.

The League’s ministerial committee – consisting of ministers from a number of Arab states including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt, as well as the Secretary-General of the Arab League – was formed earlier this year to manage and oversee the reconciliation process with the Assad regime following the regional body’s readmission of Damascus into its fold.

Reconciliation with Assad is a strategic mistake and backward step for the Arab world

Following Syria’s readmission after a 12-year-long suspension due to its crackdown on peaceful protests and ongoing civil war, many analysts and activists warned and predicted that the restoration of the Assad regime’s membership into the Arab League would not solve the crisis in the country, but would, instead, embolden the regime in its existing operations.

Around four months into Assad’s readmission, a number of problems continue to persist and have even worsened, such as the instability in fighting within Syria, the failure to implement reforms, the lack of a resolution for the return of refugees and the rampant trafficking of narcotics, like Captagon, throughout the region.

According to reports, the drug smuggling operations from Syria – which the Assad regime uses to circumvent sanctions and attain funds in the billions – have actually increased since the readmission of Syria into the Arab League and the restoration of many Arab states’ ties with the regime, with little sign of slowing down.

The suspension of talks and communication with the Syrian government reportedly does not automatically mean the cutting of relations with it but, instead, simply puts a halt to the ongoing resolution process.

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