Bashar al-Assad participates in his first Arab League summit in thirteen years

“A killer among his own”headlined this Thursday Release. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will participate tomorrow, Friday, in Saudi Arabia in his first Arab League summit for thirteen years. The pan-Arab organization rejoined the Syrian regime on May 7, which had been expelled from it at the end of 2011 after the repression of a popular uprising which had degenerated into a devastating war.

Analysts see in the invitation addressed to Bashar al-Assad a manifestation of the diplomatic weight of Saudi Arabia, which has pleaded for the rehabilitation of Damascus and seeks to influence the conflicts in the region. In Washington, the deputy spokesman for the State Department, Vedant Patel, reiterated the opposition of the United States to this rehabilitation. “ In the endthese are their own decisions but our position is very clear: we will not normalize our relations with the Assad regime and we do not support those who do,” he told reporters.

Sudan and Yemen on the menu

In addition to restoring ties with the Syrian regime, Arab heads of state are expected to address the situation in Sudan, plagued by deadly fighting for a month, and in Yemen, the scene of a war for more than eight years. The kingdom is also seeking to end the war in Yemen, negotiating with the Iran-backed Houthi rebels it has long fought alongside the Yemeni government.

“The Jeddah summit is one of the most important for a long time, because it will help rebuild the region,” said Saudi observer Suleiman al-Aqili. If he manages to reintegrate Syria into the Arab fold and adopt a firm position on the conflicts in Sudan and Yemen, it will be a success. »

Whether Damascus’ reintegration into the Arab League will help advance a resolution of the conflict in Syria, and allow Arab leaders to extract concessions from Bashar al-Assad on issues such as the return of Syrian refugees, remains to be seen. “Assad’s return to the Arab League is a symbolic measure marking the start of the process to end his regional isolation,” said analyst Anna Jacobs of the International Crisis Group think tank. It will be important to observe whether it will be accompanied by economic normalization, in particular by the Arab states of the Gulf. »

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