Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil has called for restoring Syria’s membership in the Arab League, amid growing Arab overtures towards the Damascus government now that the country seems to be on the verge of full victory against foreign-backed terrorists.
“Every time we meet, there is a vacant chair. … It is not permissible for Syria to remain outside the Arab fold,” Bassil said during a speech at the fifth Russian-Arab Cooperation Forum in the Russian capital city of Moscow on Tuesday.
He added, “Our Arab people are counting on us and are waiting for the Arab League to play an essential role in bringing together Arabs and solving our many problems.”
The top Lebanese diplomat then described the Middle East region’s list of issues as “long and difficult,” but emphasized that addressing the Syrian crisis should take priority.
The Arab League suspended Syria’s membership in November 2011, citing alleged crackdown by Damascus on opposition protests. Syria denounced the move as “illegal and a violation of the organization’s charter.”
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said on February 3 that his country will eventually return to the Arab League, stressing that the Damascus government will never surrender to blackmail or accept conditions for the restoration of its membership to the regional organization.
“Those who are trying to ignore Syria or to impose conditions for its return to the Arab League will not succeed, since Syria will not surrender to blackmail and is not primarily concerned with anything other than its domestic problems,” Mekdad said.
He added that certain anti-Syria decisions are being made by some Arab states on the instructions of extra-regional powers.
Some Arab countries have recently stepped up efforts to normalize ties with Syria as the country’s troops have been making sweeping gains against the foreign-backed terrorists operating to topple the Damascus government.
The issue of possible restoration of Syria’s membership in the Arab League comes especially after a recent move by some Arab countries to re-open their embassies in Damascus.
Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry announced in a statement on December 28 last year that work at the kingdom’s embassy in the Syrian Arab Republic was going on while the embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic to Bahrain was carrying out its duties and flights connecting the two countries were operational without interruption.
The United Arab Emirates had earlier officially reopened its embassy in Damascus.
The Emirati Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said the reopening of its embassy “reaffirms the keenness of the United Arab Emirates to restore relations between the two friendly countries to their normal course.”