Syria’s Re-admission to the Arab League


Syria has rejoined the Arab League as a full member after a 12-year absence. Syria’s readmission was announced on May 7, 2023, during an Arab League Council meeting led by foreign ministers in Cairo.

The Arab League, established in March 1945, is a 22-member international organization comprised of Arab and Muslim countries (all Arab and Muslim countries with affiliations). The organization’s goals are to foster collaboration among member countries and to enable these countries to coordinate economic, social, and political processes.

Following the Cairo conference, the Arab League issued an official statement declaring that the Arab League has decided to reinstate Syria’s membership and restore its participation in League Council meetings immediately, effective May 7, 2023. It was also stated that the League Council of Ministers had decided to reinstate the participation of delegations from the Syrian Arab Republic’s government in meetings of the Arab League Council and other connected organizations and agencies.

The declaration also emphasized the importance of taking practical and effective steps to gradually resolve the crisis in Syria in accordance with the “step by step” principle and in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 to continue efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to all those in need in Syria. It is also necessary to establish a liaison committee of ministers comprised of representatives from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, and the secretary general of the Arab League to monitor the implementation of the Amman Agreement (May 2023) and to maintain a direct dialogue with the Syrian government to reach a comprehensive agreement and a solution to the Syrian crisis in all of its ramifications.

The Amman Agreement as the framework for the Arab League’s return to Syria, as well as references to refugees, foreign presence, and drugs:

On Monday, May 1, 2023, the foreign ministers of Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Syria convened in Amman, Jordan’s capital, to complete consultation sessions regarding the Syrian crisis and to negotiate the agreement on Syria’s return to the Arab League. Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad, who was visiting Jordan, attended the meeting.

The meeting discussed the details of contacts held by Gulf Cooperation Council countries, as well as Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt, with the Syrian government to present the Jordanian initiative, which aims to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis and pave the way for Syria’s return to the Arab League.

Following the conference, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi stated that “the current situation in Syria cannot continue, and that the methodology implemented in recent years in managing the crisis has not and will not yield anything but further devastation and destruction.” He explained that the meeting in Amman is a continuation of one held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in mid-April 2023. He went on to say that the dialogue was focused on “the humanitarian side and measures capable of alleviating the suffering of the Syrian people.”

The refugee topic was also mentioned in the meeting’s concluding statement. According to the UN, around 5.5 million registered Syrian refugees live in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt. The safe and voluntary return of Syrian refugees to their home country is considered a key priority, and essential actions should be taken to commence implementation immediately. The ministers urged Syria and countries hosting refugees to work together, in collaboration with the UN, to “organize a safe and voluntary return for refugees and end their suffering, according to specific procedures and a clear time frame.”

We believe that returning refugees to Syria is not “safe” for many of them since they could face death or prison. The Syrian regime will not accept the presence or repatriation of some refugees and is using the refugee crisis to lobby for reconstruction assistance. It should be emphasized that returning refugees to Syria in its current state is, in fact, a violation of Security Council Resolution 2254 because most of them will be unable to receive humanitarian aid.

It was also agreed to support Syria and its institutions in any genuine effort to reestablish authority over its territories, impose the rule of law, eliminate the existence of armed groups, and prevent foreign meddling in Syria’s internal affairs. “Foreign intervention” did not appear to refer to Russia, Iran, or Hezbollah. Russian forces, Iranian military, and proxies will most likely not leave Syria soon, if at all. Their interests, influence, and engagement in Syria are so profound that, according to our assessment, their presence in Syria is permanent.

Will Syria’s re-admission to the Arab League put an end to the smuggling of Captagon pills into Jordan? Syria pledged to collaborate with Jordan and Iraq to identify the sources of drug production and trafficking thru its borders. Damascus also promised to take the required steps to halt cross-border smuggling with Jordan and Iraq.

According to CNN, Jordan’s foreign minister stated on May 6 that Jordan could no longer permit drug smuggling into the country and that Jordan was considering Jordanian military intervention in southern Syria. Jordan’s foreign minister did not issue a false warning. Jordan carried out an extraordinary airstrike in southern Syria on May 8 against Captagon drug production and storage facilities.

(*** קישור למאמר באתר***)

According to our assessment, the Jordanian operation is meant to send a clear message to the Syrians that Jordan will no longer tolerate a situation in which the Syrians do nothing to stop the flood of drugs smuggled into their territory and even cooperate with these smuggled drugs for economic reasons.

Jordan’s message to the Syrians is clear: Jordan’s support for Syria’s return to the Arab League is subject to Syria taking action against drug smuggling. If Syria fails to comply, all options are open, including Jordan’s military intervention in southern Syria, like the intervention that took place on May 8.

Is the message clear? Perhaps only in the foreseeable future. Will the smuggling eventually come to an end? We’re not certain. There is concern that if Syria’s membership in the Arab League is renewed, it may not act promptly to combat the drug trade. It is well known that the Syrian drug industry operates under the auspices of President Assad’s close family members and various divisions in the Syrian military, generating a lot of wealth (particularly the 4th Division, led by the president’s brother, Maher al-Assad). The extremist Shiite axis (militias and Hezbollah) is also directly and deeply involved in the drug trade. The latter are independent of the Syrian regime and operate independently on Syrian soil. In light of the preceding, the question arises as to whether the Syrians are interested in preventing smuggling and whether they are capable of doing so.

For us, the solution is self-evident.

The following are the main reaction to Syria’s intention to rejoin the Arab League:

The Syrian opposition, as expected, expressed its displeasure with Syria’s return to the Arab League. According to opposition reports, Syria’s return to the organization is a “reward” toward the regime, encouraging other totalitarian countries to carry out massacres with impunity. Furthermore, it was suggested that the situation persists because President Assad is the source of the problem rather than a part of the solution.

Qatar, which is known for its opposition to Syria’s return to the Arab League and was not present at the vote to return Syria to the organization, issued a statement saying that Qatar’s position on normalizing relations with Syria has not changed and that Qatar supports broad agreement among Arab countries and will not be an obstacle to it. In its statement, Qatar emphasized the importance of ensuring a political solution that will meet the aspirations of the Syrian people and solve the crisis at its base.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Bou Habib stated that the Arab League is incomplete without Syria and that the international community as a whole must find a solution to the Syrian refugee crisis. Hamas also praised the decision, which stated that the Arab nation must unite against the Zionists’ colonialist objectives…

 U.S. Secretary of State Blinken also addressed Syria’s reinstatement to the Arab League. According to Blinken, the US feels Syria does not deserve to be readmitted to the Arab League. The U.S. has conveyed its position on the issue to its Middle Eastern partners, but they must make their own decisions. Blinken went on to assert that the U.S. has no plans to reestablish relations with Assad and his regime.


The Arab decision to reinstate Syria into the Arab League can be seen in two ways. The first explanation is that moderate and center Arab powers want to expand their influence in Syria as a counterweight to the Shiite Axis and attempt to diminish Iranian influence in Syria. The second interpretation is that moderate Arab states want to strengthen ties with Iran and Russia through Syria. This is based on their perception that the United States has lost interest in the Middle East and that the country is experiencing political weakness with a decline in American influence around the world, particularly in the Middle East.

Note – Do not doubt it. The moderate Arab states (headed by Saudi Arabia) do not consider Iran an ally. They are apprehensive about the progress of Iran’s nuclear project and feel uneasy regarding their relations with the U.S. As a result, they are interested in keeping all channels open. All of this is in addition to their substantial business interests in Syria. They do not want the Shiite Axis to have sole control of the Syrian stage.

Syria’s embrace from Arab states is, in any event, a bear hug. The challenge now is how to interpret this embrace. Whether the first interpretation or the second interpretation is correct.

Time will tell…

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Tal Beeri

Tal Beeri

Sign up for our Newsletter

Sign up to stay current on Israel’s border conflict.
Skip to content