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GCC to discuss Syria return to Arab League in light of Saudi-Iran detente

Qatar says that the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has sent invitations to member states to attend a meeting next Friday in the Saudi capital, Jeddah, to discuss the possibility of Syria's return to the Arab League.

Majid al-Ansari, the spokesperson of the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Doha has received the invitation and confirmed that Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammad bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani will take part in the event.

He noted that “concerned countries” such as Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan will also participate in the “consultative meeting”.

“The main aim is to discuss the situation in Syria. There are many developments regarding the situation in Syria and points of view of Arab states about the return of Syria to the Arab League,” al-Ansari said in a briefing to local media.

For his part, a spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the issue of Baghdad’s participation in the meeting is currently being studied.

According to media reports, the United Arab Emirates is understood to support the plan. Syria was one of the six founding members of the Arab League in 1945.

The shift in policies took place as Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to resume diplomatic relations severed in 2016. The recent development indicates how the deal between Tehran and Riyadh may play into the settlement of other crises in the Middle East region.

Earlier last week, the Iranian and Saudi foreign ministers signed a joint statement in Beijing to restore relations and start arrangements to reopen embassies and consulates. Riyadh and Tehran have also agreed to improve security and economic cooperation.

Syria’s membership in the Arab League was suspended following the eruption of a foreign-backed militancy in the country in 2011.

In 2015, Syrian activists said that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and Turkey supported both al-Nusra Front, which is affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Daesh terrorist group in Syria by giving them money or allowing Wahhabi mosques to collect money for them.

Around the same time, former US Senate candidate, Mark Dankof said the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia had been involved in creating the Daesh terrorist group to overthrow the legitimate Syrian government.

Saudi Arabia closed its embassy in Damascus and withdrew all diplomats in March 2012. Today, the two governments are “preparing to reopen embassies after Eid al-Fitr”, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, according to media reports.

The UAE also cut its relations with Syria in 2012, a year after Damascus found itself in the grips of foreign-backed violence, but it reopened its embassy in Damascus in 2018.

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