Arab League Summit (May 19)
Readmission of Syria without any concessions
The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) is disappointed about the fact that Syria was readmitted into the Arab League. The Assad regime did not even have to make any concessions. Exactly twelve years ago, the people of Syria took to the streets to demand democracy, free speech, and freedom of the press. Instead, they got a ruined country: “Around 600,000 people were killed, 80 percent of the population are living in poverty, and 12 million people are on the run within the country or abroad. In addition, the people were and still are suffering from the heinous crimes committed by the regime and its allies in Russia and Iran,” stated Dr. Kamal Sido, the STP’s Middle East Consultant, in Göttingen on Wednesday. “Many war crimes were committed by the Turkish autocrat Erdogan and various Islamist militias that are financed and armed by the Arab Gulf states – especially Qatar – and by Turkey and a few other NATO governments.”
The readmission of the Assad regime is a logical consequence of the recent developments in the Syria crisis. Erdogan, the Islamist militias, and NATO governments were never willing to give the Syrian people a better alternative to Assad. “It is especially the minority groups in the multi-religious and multiethnic state that have been suffering from the violence. The Christians, Druze, Ismaili Muslims, Shiites, Yazidis, Alevis, Sunni Arabs, and the Kurdish majority are not willing to accept an Islamist regime as favored by Erdogan and the Muslim Brotherhood,” Sido added. “The alternative to Assad’s dictatorship – a democratic Syria in which all ethnic groups and religious communities are able to live relatively freely and equally – was only implemented in the Kurdish autonomous regions.” Such aspirations are fought in the scope of the so-called “Astana Format”, which serves as a basis for Russia, Turkey, Iran, and the Assad regime to coordinate their policies – as a means to thwart the Kurdish demands for autonomy and, following the Turkish invasion and the occupation of Afrin, to destroy the autonomous self-administration in northern Syria completely. “I visited northern Syria from April 15 to May 6. I talked to members of various ethnic groups and religious communities – in Al-Hasakah, Raqqa, and in parts of Aleppo. The people are tired of the war, and they want peace and quiet for their country – preferably without Assad. However, they most definitely don’t want Erdogan and the Islamists as an alternative.”
In a statement published by the Arab League on May 14, the Arab foreign ministers emphasized their willingness to reinstate Syria’s membership in the Arab League. The decision was made after an eleven-year absence, against the background of the protests in Syria in 2011. The devastating earthquake in Syria and neighboring Turkey in February 2023 might have accelerated the process of resuming relations between Damascus and the other countries in the region.