Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Arab Summit may bury hatchet with Assad

 Secret contacts currently underway ahead of the Arab League summit later this month may bring about a sea change in the Arab world’s relationship with Syrian President Bashar Assad, DEBKAfile’s sources report. 

On Saturday, Feb. 25, Egypt’s parliamentary committee for Arab affairs called for the return of Syria to the Arab League. This step symbolized an initiative launched by a number of leaders to invite Syrian President Bashar Assad to the March 29 Arab Summit in Amman - five years after Syria was expelled from the 22-member Arab League over the savage civil war then at its height.

Three leaders are spearheading the moves for Assad’s reacceptance by the Arab community, whether together or separately: Russian President Vladimir Putin, Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sissi and Jordanian King Abdullah. All three hope to see a historic handshake and greetings between Assad and Saudi King Salman.

This would signify the reconciliation between Saudi Arabia which backed the Syrian rebels, and the Assad regime. But for Assad, it would mark collective Arab recognition of his personal victory, when few expected him to come out alive from the nearly seven years of cruel warfare, first sparked by the Arab Spring of December 2010.

Putin’s interest in this epic event is self-evident. When he launched a major Russian intervention in the Syrian war in September 2015, President Barack Obama predicted that the Russian army would sink in the Syrian quagmire. The Russian leader proved him wrong, and his reputation in the Arab world would soar if he coujld persuade King Salman to accept Assad’s return to the Arab summit.

The plan is for the Syrian ruler to arrive in Amman armed with a Russian safe-conduct guarantee, aboard a Russian military aircraft which would fly him there and back from Russia’s Syrian military base at Hmeimim. READ MORE