Qatar repeatedly stressed its rejection of the Syrian regime’s crimes against civilians that have persisted over the past decade.
A meeting between regional foreign ministers in Jordan ended on Monday with no update on the return of the Syrian regime to the Arab League, as Bashar Al Assad refuses to compromise for his seat in the bloc.
The meeting in Amman was attended by foreign ministers from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq and Egypt and took place just weeks ahead of the Arab League summit, scheduled to take place in Riyadh on 19 May.
Speaking to the press, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said that Assad’s return to the Arab League “is a decision that would be taken by the league, based on the established mechanisms.”
Safadi added that the consultative meeting focused on restoring Syria’s security along with its “main” role in the region and the world, as reported by Jordan’s news agency.
He stated that the handling of the Syrian crisis “did not produce and will not produce anything but more ruin and destruction.”
“The Arab countries participating in the meeting want to build on our joint efforts to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis,” the Jordanian official added.
The meeting comes amid efforts to rehabilitate the Assad regime back into the Arab League after its membership was suspended in 2011 over crackdowns on peaceful protests.
Regional movements saw several Arab countries rekindle their ties with Assad after more than a decade of isolation, showcasing a shift in stances. The shifts started last year among Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, with Egypt and Saudi Arabia following suit this year.
April saw the first ever Saudi visit to Damascus since 2011, where the former was represented by its foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.
On the other hand, Qatar and Kuwait have maintained their stance against normalising with the Assad regime while repeatedly calling out its crimes against civilians.
Assad wants ‘total surrender’ from Arab countries
Previous reports pointed to demands placed by countries in the region for Assad to return to the bloc.
However on Monday, an official told the Financial Times (FT) that Assad showed no willingness to compromise at a recent regional meeting. The official said that the regime wanted “total surrender” instead.
“Some are joking that they might even ask for an apology,” the official told FT.
Last month, foreign ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council in addition to Jordan, Egypt and Iraq met in Saudi Arabia to discuss their positions on whether the Assad regime should return to the Arab League.
Citing two officials with knowledge on the meeting at the time, the FT reported “a sharp pushback” on the matter from Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan , despite the latter having rekindled ties with Assad last year.
Saudi Arabia spearheading rehabilitation efforts
In recent weeks, host of the upcoming Arab League summit, Saudi Arabia has spearheaded efforts to push for the reinstatement of the Syrian regime in the bloc.
Similar moves were made ahead of the summit last year, with host Algeria pushing for Syria’s membership to be reinstated.
In April, Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said there is currently “nothing on the table” and said reports being published by the media are mere speculations.
“There were reasons behind freezing Syria’s membership at the Arab League and the boycott of the Syrian regime and these reasons are still there,” Sheikh Mohammed stressed in his first live interview since becoming Qatar’s prime minister.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said in January 2023 that at least 1057 civilians, including 251 children and 133 victims of torture were killed in Syria in 2022 alone.
The Assad regime caused a refugee crisis, with millions of Syrians unable to return home in fear of torture, forced disappearance or detention.