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Assad will demand high price for return of refugees

Arab League at risk of getting caught between US and Syria over sanctions policy.
A woman sits outside a tent at a camp for those displaced by conflict in the countryside near Syria's northern city of Raqa on December 19, 2022. (Photo by Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP) (Photo by DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The Arab League is reportedly on the verge of voting on Syria’s readmittance to the Arab League on Sunday in what would be a stunning, if symbolic, turnaround for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

The league suspended Syria’s membership in 2011 in response to the government’s brutal crackdown on mass demonstrations against Assad’s rule. 

Normalization of ties with Syria has been gaining momentum in recent years. There’s no understating the plight of Syria’s people; 90% live below the poverty line, and US and Western sanctions have compounded their economic misery. Arab countries have seized on the drift in US Syria policy to press for a new course, rooted in the reality of Assad’s staying power and to prevent Syria’s economic collapse. The earthquake in Syria and Turkey in February accelerated the normalization efforts. On May 1, the foreign ministers of Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq met in Amman to establish a framework for Syria’s return.   

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al-Safadi briefed US and Western leaders on the plan, which he says will track with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015), the long-standing (if outdated) resolution outlining the political transition in Syria. We made the case here that, in theory, a return to Arab league engagement with Syria could give a needed boost to the UN political track

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