The Washington Post: Assad’s presence in Jeddah reflects the new normal in the Middle East


For the Saudi hosts, the return of Syrian President Bashar al Assad to the Arab League is part of a broader attempt to ease frictions in the Middle East, after years of geopolitical polarization, devastating wars and social unrest.

The Washington Post pointed out that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman expressed his hope that Syria’s return to the Arab League would lead to an end to its crisis.

Although Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tried to mobilize support for his country during his presence at the summit held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, leaders in the Middle East saw that the war in Ukraine underscores the need for more stability in an era of uncertainty.

Saudi Arabia is working to reform its relationship with Iran, and its endeavor to get out of the war in Yemen, as it gives priority to its development plans at home.

The Washington Post drew attention to the caution of US officials and Western diplomats about the rehabilitation of political relations with Damascus.

At a time when countries such as Jordan, Algeria, and the UAE are calling for easing sanctions on Syria, US lawmakers are intensifying their efforts to pass a new round of legislation against the Syrian state and prevent further normalization.

This shift may also reflect the waning appetite of the United States to engage in the region, as Washington today focuses on challenges farther east, taking a back seat in Arab affairs.

The normalization with Syria is proceeding in full swing, and the Arab countries accurately judge the position of the United States on normalization, which is that it doesn’t want to put its fingerprint on it, nor does it want to support it, but it won’t do anything to prevent it from happening.

It’s noteworthy that the League of Arab States announced, on May 7, that it agreed to the return of Syria to occupy its seat, after suspending its membership for 12 years in the wake of the war in the country.

On May 19, the work of the 32nd regular session of the Arab Summit began in the Saudi city of Jeddah, in the presence of a number of Arab leaders.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received Arab leaders and heads of delegations participating in the summit, including the Syrian President.

In his speech during the summit, Assad said that the Arabs are facing a “historic opportunity” to rearrange the Arab house, in isolation from foreign interference.

Assad affirmed that joint Arab action needs common goals, a unified policy, and clear principles, stressing the necessity of rejecting foreign interference.

For his part, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, in a message of greetings he sent to the participants in the convening Arab summit, that his country traditionally attaches “great importance to developing friendly relations and constructive partnership cooperation with the countries of the Middle East and North Africa”.

This comes within the framework of “dialogue with the League of Arab States, in order to respond effectively to the emerging threats and challenges facing humanity”.

In turn, the Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed that Syria’s return to the Arab League shows once again that “when America’s shadow shrinks, the light of peace spreads”.

“We believe that with the concerted efforts of all parties, Arab countries will definitely achieve solidarity and revitalization,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.

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