Will Syria’s Arab League victory trigger positive change?

By May 23, 2023

Syria (MNN) — On Friday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made his first appearance at the Arab League Summit in 12 years. Though indeed a political victory, will this development improve dire conditions on the ground?

Joshua Landis, director of both the Center of Middle East Studies and the Farzaneh Family Center for Iranian and Arabian Gulf Studies at the University of Oklahoma, told Arab News:

“Arab countries will now have to decide how they want to chip away at Western sanctions and defy the West’s efforts to maintain a strict boycott of Syria… and help facilitate the return of trade, the restoration of Syria’s energy sector and the electric grid. Until that happens, Syrians will continue to live in misery and privation.”

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visits Syria’s Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on May 3, 2023.
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Arab League kicked Syria out when the regime’s crackdown on protestors sparked a civil war in 2011. Earlier this month, the league reinstated Syria’s membership – even though the war has not officially ended.

If the war is still going on, what changed?

The shift resulted from “not internal as much as external factors. What changed is, basically, two things: one, Daesh (the Islamic State) is done. [Two,] Iran and Saudi are now on good terms,” Fadi Sharaiha with MENA Leadership Center says.

“This will change the whole environment in the region in terms of [proxy war countries like] Syria, Lebanon, Libya, and Yemen.”

After China brokered peace between Iran and Saudi Arabia, former regional rivals, conflicts in neighboring countries began to shift – Syria included.

“Maybe the proxy war [between Saudi Arabia and Iran] is now coming to an end? I hope, and I think [it is]. It’s a complicated [matter], to say the least,” Sharaiha says.

No easy answers

Even if proxy wars end, challenges remain. “Things in Syria are much calmer, although you still see some of the ISIS fighters here and there. Also, remember that Syria and Turkey are now not on good terms,” Sharaiha says.

Tremendous needs remain as well. Syria’s war has killed over a half-million people, drove millions more into neighboring countries as refugees, and destroyed infrastructure nationwide. The February 6 earthquakes made life even worse in northern Syria.

Discussions at the Arab League Summit involved “not only the (earthquake) rebuild, but also refugees going back to Syria,” Sharaiha says.

“They cannot go back until some kind of rebuild happens, and for the rebuild, they (Syrian authorities) need money.”

MENA Leadership Center equips Syrian believers to do the work of Christ, sharing help and hope with those who need it most. With support from believers like you, MLC provides essential training to help leaders plan, think, and lead more strategically.

“Pray for Christian leaders to lead well and not to give up,” Sharaiha requests.

“Please pray for them to be rooted in Christ; to know that their identity is in Christ, that God is sovereign, and whatever is happening around them, God is still in control.”




Header image depicts a meeting at the 2018 Arab League Summit. (Wikimedia Commons)

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