Assad happy to return to Arab League

By Aziz El Yakoubi and Samia Nakhoul

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received a warm welcome from his compatriots in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Friday, completing his rehabilitation in the Arab League after 12 years in exile.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sealed Assad’s return to the regional organization with a handshake, drawing a line under years of animosity against the leader from the kingdom and other Arab countries in Syria, which has armed with Shiite Iran and Russia. allied himself to put down the rebellion. After the suppression of pro-democracy protests in 2011, at the cost of millions of deaths.

The Saudi leader said he hoped “Syria’s return to the Arab League would bring an end to this crisis” and turn the page on “traumatic years of conflict”.

Bashar al-Assad, whom many Arab countries want to further distance himself from Tehran, assured that Syria’s “past, present and future” were “Arabism”, without a word regarding the Islamic republic.

The Syrian premier, in years of conflict with Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose auxiliary forces occupied northern Syria, on the other hand pointed to the “danger of expansionist Ottoman thought”, citing it as influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization. Banned by many Arab countries.

At the 32nd Arab League summit, Mohammed bin Salman’s Saudi Arabia seeks to appear as an essential diplomatic power, while the global energy crisis, the war in Ukraine and tensions between the United States and China have thrown the world’s largest Oil exporter on the international scene.

Arab leaders also welcomed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, with the Wahhabi kingdom saying it was ready to mediate between Kiev and Moscow.

(French version Jean-Stéphane Brosse)

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