Why Algeria supports the return of the Syrian regime to the Arab League?

Why Algeria supports the return of the Syrian regime to the Arab League?

As Algeria prepares to host the upcoming Arab League summit, it has expressed its renewed support for Syria's return to the League, and its quest for Arab consensus to do so. The Algerian position still raises many question marks about the real reasons behind this.
Although the majority of Arab countries decided to cut off all relations with the Syrian regime, since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in 2011, and the regime of Bashar al-Assad has been implicated in many horrific humanitarian crimes against its people, Algeria was among the few countries that maintained relations with Syrian Arab Republic.

At a time when the leaders and leaders of the Arab countries announced, during the month of November 2011, the suspension of Syria’s membership in the League of Arab States, and subsequently called for the withdrawal of all ambassadors from Damascus, and in addition imposed a set of economic sanctions on the Syrian regime, Algeria decided to reserve on the decision to freeze membership and did not withdraw its ambassador from Damascus.

With the resumption of relations between Jordan and the UAE with the Syrian regime, coinciding with Algeria's preparation to receive the upcoming Arab summit in its thirty-first session, Algeria expressed its hope that Syria would return to its seat in the League, calling on Arab countries to support this approach.

Following the conclusion of the diplomatic missions' symposium, Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra said during a press conference on Wednesday, November 10, that "Syria's seat should be returned to it without interfering in its policies and those who govern it." Al-Amamra added, "Algeria will work to bring the views of the Arab brothers together at the Arab Summit and show a measure of realism."

Lamamra emphasized that Algeria had objected from the beginning to the suspension of Syria's membership in the Arab League, on the grounds that this would not be a solution to the crisis that has persisted for years to date.

Although Al-Amamra's statements have sparked widespread controversy, they are not really new or surprising, as experts and analysts explain. Since the relations between the two countries have never stopped since the outbreak of the crisis in 2011, that is, during the tenure of former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, until the current Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune took office, who in turn renewed the call to lift the freeze on Syria’s membership in the Arab League.

Observers of Algerian foreign policies note its repeated affirmation of respect for the national sovereignty of states, and its disassociation from interfering in internal affairs and problems, and thus considering its position on the Syrian crisis as falling within the same direction.

Experts and analysts explain that the economic and commercial interest was among the most important motives for the continuation of bilateral relations between the two countries, despite Arab and international stress and pressure. As revealed by official reports and sources, the volume of trade exchange between Algeria and Syria before 2011 amounted to nearly $600 million annually.

Syria exports food commodities, medicines, fabrics, wheat, textiles, cotton, clothes, shoes and other commodities to Algeria, while the latter exports chemicals to Syria.

After the relations and the volume of trade exchanges between the two countries witnessed a relative stagnation during the last period, against the background of the recent developments experienced by each of the two countries and the region as a whole, the two parties returned to the meeting and discussed ways to activate the relationship and enhance cooperation opportunities.

In this context, the Ambassador of Damascus to Algeria, Namir Wahib Al-Ghanim, met with the Algerian Ministers of Trade and Labor, last February, and this was followed by several other meetings with ministers and officials, in which the two sides agreed to activate the economic agreements signed between them, in addition to activating the The Syrian-Algerian Joint Businessmen Council.

At the time, Algerian Trade Minister Kamal Rezik stated that "Algeria aspires to make Syria the Asian gateway for Algerian investors," and added, "Syria is in the process of reconstruction, and currently needs the requirements for this process, and Algeria has the potential and desire to participate in it."

Arab normalization with the Assad regime
After years of diplomatic and economic siege, some Arab countries today are breaking the wall of isolation of the Syrian regime, amid heated talk and debate about the possibility of its return to the Arab League.

In 2018, the UAE and Bahrain reopened their embassies in Damascus, followed by the Sultanate of Oman, which in turn decided in 2020 to return its ambassador to Damascus and resume diplomatic relations with the Syrian regime.

Since then, a major shift has begun to appear in the Arab attitude toward Bashar al-Assad's regime. Each party had its own motive and justifications, which it expressed in resuming relations. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan confirmed that the reason for the return of talks with the Syrian regime is due to "not seeing any effective strategy to resolve the Syrian conflict."

In this context, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said in a media statement, commenting on efforts to resume relations with the Syrian regime: "Coexistence with the current situation is not an option."

Algeria, on its part, confirmed the same position, through its foreign minister, who praised the visit of UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed to Syria on Tuesday, November 9, and his meeting with President Bashar al-Assad.

Al-Amamra took the opportunity to call on Arab leaders and leaders to "Arab unity" and to lift the freeze on Syria's membership in the League.
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