The vote in the Egyptian capital came days after regional top diplomats met in Jordan to discuss a roadmap to return Syria to the Arab fold as the conflict continues to de-escalate, and soon before Saudi Arabia hosts the upcoming Arab League Summit on May 19, according to AP.
Syria’s membership in the Arab League was suspended 12 years ago early on in the foreign-backed war, which has killed nearly a half million people since March 2011 and displaced half of the country’s pre-war population of 23 million.
All 13 of the 22 member states that attended the session endorsed the decision.
There is still no Arab consensus on normalization with Damascus. Several governments did not attend the meeting. Among the most notable absentees was Qatar, which continues to back opposition groups against Syrian government, and continues to resist normalization with Damascus.
The decision for Syria to return also includes a commitment to ongoing dialogue with Arab governments to gradually reach a political solution to the conflict, in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254. The Arab League in the decision also set up a communications committee consisting of Saudi Arabia and Syria’s neighbors Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq to follow up on developments.
In addition to commitments to a gradual resolution to the conflict, the decision also welcomed the Syrian government’s willingness to cooperate with Arab countries to resolve “humanitarian, security, and political” crises that affected Syria and the region due to the conflict — namely refugees, “the threat of terrorism and drug smuggling.”
Many anticipated Syria’s imminent return to the organization. The Arab rapprochement with Damascus accelerated after a deadly earthquake on Feb. 6 that shattered parts of the war-torn country, most notably from Saudi Arabia, which once backed opposition groups trying to overthrow the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.