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HOW long will the Arab world continue to deceive itself, as some of its countries desire to reinstate Syria in the Arab League but they refuse to acknowledge that? Instead, the question is: When will the Arab League return to the heart of Arabism – one of the founding countries of this system, which is in dire need today of a radical reform after it faced clinical death as a result of a defect in its internal system?
There is no doubt that the decision to suspend Syria’s membership was a big mistake. This is because it closed the door on any Arab voice to mediate with Damascus in an attempt to settle the explosive situation before the war led to the death of half a million citizens and the migration and displacement of millions of others, while the economic blockade caused a stifling living crisis.
Today, after years of a grinding war, most of the international community recognizes that the current regime, headed by President Bashar Al-Assad, is a safety valve and can play a major role in confronting extremist groups.
Several Western countries have opened direct or indirect diplomatic channels of communication with Damascus. In fact, there is a Western conviction that the estrangement enhances Iran’s role, and that openness and support to Syria will inevitably lead to the interpretation of the Syrian popular and official rejection of the Iranian presence on the shores of the Mediterranean to the removal of this threat.
Therefore, the refusal of some Arab countries to reinstate Syria to the Arab League, or the delay in restoring relations with it, is a futile reluctance. Because the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the pole of peace in the region, the return of water to its natural course through Damascus’ participation in the upcoming Algeria Summit will be a good start to activate joint Arab cooperation, which suffered a major setback since 2011 with the exclusion of a central state from the Arab League.
The Sultanate of Oman was wise in its stance to not sever its relationship with Syria, as well as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Jordan when they decided to reopen their embassies in Damascus, as the vision of those countries was that the continuation of the rupture would have had several consequences for national security and Arab cooperation.
After years of the Damascus regime imposing security in many areas, the start of serious talks globally about participating in the reconstruction process, and the return of refugees to contribute to Syria’s exit from the ordeal, a rapid Arab move is necessary so as not to leave this country to the Western countries, Iran and Russia. Meanwhile, “the Arabs come out without Homs”, as is their custom because they did not seize the unique opportunity.
There is no doubt that the boycott of Syria leaves a great vacuum. Because there is no vacuum in politics, there are countries that have worked to fill it, such as Iran and Turkey. This means giving the two expansionist projects more power, especially since they are active in several Arab countries such as Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Lebanon.
This consequently constitutes a real threat to Arab national security, which today is in dire need of serious maintenance after the setbacks it has faced, starting with helping Syria recover as an influential factor in the region and a strategic transportation hub.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times