The Middle East Stabilises, Against the Backdrop of a Great Unravelling

May 28, 2023

Source: Al Mayadeen English

In his speech, President Al-Assad spoke of the opportunity this wave of discontent and anger has provided to the Region to revise its dispositions – away from Western dominance and intervention

By Alastair Crooke 

America’s own structural contradictions of a hyper-financialised economy, sucking the substance from its real-economy host — of a society living in trembling fear of a hospital bill.

The US stands aloof and disconsolate in the wake of the diplomatic revolution in the Middle East. First, China mediated (and guaranteed) a settlement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and then last week, President Bashar al-Assad strode confidently into the Arab League summit – to greetings and kisses all around. President Assad, after 12 long years of struggle, has been legitimised within the Arab sphere, and is returned as a normal, sovereign state for most of the world.

But a new mood has arisen: Anger is building across the world. To those that have been vilified, sanctioned and attacked in the name of the ‘Rules-based Order’ the message is clear: You are not alone; many peoples are voicing their anger and discontent. The divisive ‘with us’, or (be treated as extremist threat), if ‘against us’ dogma is being overthrown. US foreign policy is crumbling across the Middle East, and in Asia, Africa and South America.

In his speech, President Al-Assad spoke of the opportunity this wave of discontent and anger has provided to the Region to revise its dispositions – away from Western dominance and intervention:

Today we are facing an opportunity to change the international situation that appears in the form of a unipolar world, a result of the dominance of the West, who lacks all ethics and principles … This historic opportunity requires the Arab World to reposition itself and invest in the positive atmosphere of reconciliation that preceded today’s summit”, Al-Assad added, referring to recent diplomatic initiatives which resulted in Saudi Arabia’s resumption of diplomatic ties with Tehran and Damascus.

President Al-Assad also stressed the need to consolidate Arab culture in the face of “modern liberalism, which targets the innate affiliations of man and strips him of his morals and identity”.

This latter point by Al-Assad — ‘the cultural danger’ associated with contemporary woke liberalism — is noticeably becoming a global theme, as states emphasise the wish to manage lives in their own way of being.

Of course, Syria is not yet sovereign. US and Turkish forces, together with foreign-backed militia, occupy significant portions of Syrian land. Nonetheless, the Arab League’s position on rejecting foreign intervention and their de-facto legitimisation of the Syrian government will assist Damascus in finding a negotiated outcome.

For “Israel”, the prospect ahead is one of radical change, amidst fears of “being left in the dust”. Prime Minister Netanyahu, amidst domestic schisms and continuing protests, has been seeking to downplay these tectonic shifts, and to project an image of ‘business as usual’ to counter the foreign media focus on protests and political turmoil within “Israel”.  

Attacking the Palestinians in Gaza helps keep Netanyahu’s Right-leaning coalition intact — as one Israeli commentator wrote: “Killing children brings Israelis together”. However, Netanyahu’s two Israeli-unity mainstays for ‘gathering Israelis around the flag’: hyping the Iranian nuclear ‘threat’, and lauding his achievement of the so-called Abrahams Accord, have both lost their shine.

Firstly, the reconciliation between Iran and Gulf States voids much of the original justification — Arab fear of Iran — for US’ Iran policy. The two former antagonists presently are resolving their differences diplomatically (under Chinese guidance), and exchanging mutual security assurances between them.  In any event, Team Biden does not want war with Iran. It has enough on its plate already.

And secondly, Jake Sullivan, on his recent trip to Saudi Arabia, failed to persuade the Kingdom to normalise with “Israel”. Arab States at the summit rather, are emphasising the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative which precludes normalisation with “Israel”, until a Palestinian State has come into existence. The States which have ‘normalised’ will continue in the same mode, but the conceptual structure of the Abraham Accords (from the Israeli perspective) is entirely hollowed out. Arab States are busy opening diplomatic and trade channels with Iran; they are no longer manning an anti-Iran axis on behalf of Washington and “Tel Aviv”.

Were we to stand-back and see Regional events in a wider arc, we might notice two things about the global situation: The first is that “Israel’s” present travails, and signs of a putative unravelling of the project, spring not, as its leaders and external allies incessantly have prognosticated, from outside forces, but from “Israel’s” own internal unresolved contradictions.

“Israel’s” structural problem is underscored by the current, bitter stand-off over Netanyahu’s plan for Judicial Reform. The Israeli Jewish population is split down the middle: Ashkenazi vs Mizrahi; secular ‘balancers’ vs ‘Jewishness’ exclusivists — with neither side willing to back down and each claiming to be the ‘more democratic’; and each with a vision of “Israel” that is wholly incompatible with that of the ‘other’. “Israel” rests at the cusp of low-intensity civil conflict.

Similarly, America’s polarisation and deepening political divide, which for some Americans also portends some form of internal secession as the only solution to America’s own putative unravelling, spring not – as its political leaders insist – from outside forces (from Russia, China or Iran), but from its own unresolved contradictions.

America’s own structural contradictions of a hyper-financialised economy, sucking the substance from its real-economy host — of a society living in trembling fear of a hospital bill; of despairing to put their children through college with its exorbitant fees; and a political system in near constant paralysis, a zero-sum confrontation — are self-generated and are not external ‘demons’ (except perhaps, in the depths of the unconscious psyche).

Here is the contrast:  The Region is shaking itself free from the divisions and schisms of the past. Western ‘great powers’, however, are sinking deeper into theirs. This confluence is systemically unstable: it represents an imbalance, and likely will lead to a period of sustained turmoil.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

كيف كانت القمّة؟

2023 ألثلاثاء 23 أيار

القادة العرب بمعظمهم عبّروا عن سعادتهم بحضور سوريا، وأملهم أن يكون هذا اللقاء فاتحة مرحلة عمل عربي جديدة وغنية تعود بالخير على الشعب العربي في جميع أقطاره.

القادة العرب بمعظمهم عبّروا عن سعادتهم بحضور سوريا
كيف كانت القمّة؟

هذا هو السؤال الذي يسأله الجميع: كيف كانت القمّة؟ ولكن، لا بدّ أولاً من تحديد المقصود من السؤال؟ وعن أي الأطراف؟ أو أي المستويات نريد أن نتحدث؟ لنبدأ من العموم. كانت القمة منظمة تنظيماً هائلاً ومحكماً؛ فكلّ الأمور تسير بانسيابية عالية، وكلّ الوفود تشعر بالاهتمام والترحيب. ورغم الأعداد الكبيرة الموجودة، لم يشعر أحد أن عليه إعادة السؤال مرتين.

ومن نافل القول إن الضيافة كانت عربية أصيلة بامتياز، وأن المضيفين استقبلوا الجميع، وتعاملوا معهم بغاية المودّة والاحترام، ولم تفارق الابتسامة وجوههم أبداً حيثما كانوا. وما يثلج الصدر أيضاً أنك تتحدث لغة عربية مع الجميع، فلا مترجمين ولا من يحزنون، وهذه ميزة وخاصة من خصائص هذه الأمة، ومن نعم الله عليها قلّ نظيرها في أمم أخرى. حتى ممثل الاتحاد الأفريقي وممثل منظمة المؤتمر الإسلامي تحدثا باللغة العربية.

تشعر وأنت داخل القاعة باعتزاز كبير، ولكن بثقل المسؤولية؛ لأن لدى كل هذه الوفود عشرات من النقاط المشتركة التي لم يتمّ العمل عليها بما تستحق، ولو تمّ العمل عليها وإعطاؤها الأولوية ووضع الخطوات التنفيذية لها لكانت كفيلة بنقل هذه الأمة من حال إلى حال لتصبح قوة إقليمية ودولية يُحسب لها ألف حساب.

ولكنك تشعر بالأمل بأن تكون المتغيرات الدولية والإقليمية قد ساهمت أيضاً في خلق متغيّرات على الساحة العربية، وفي الوعي العربي وأسلوب العمل العربي. فللمرة الأولى يتم تحديد كلمات الزعماء بخمس دقائق لكلّ منهم، فلم تكن هناك لغة إنشائية، أو خطب عصماء بحيث يصاب البعض بالملل ويخرجون من القاعة، كما كانت العادة، بل كان اجتماعاً محدداً، وكانت الكلمات قصيرة مكثّفة تختلف في مستويات طروحاتها ورؤاها، ولكنها تتسم بالجدية والرغبة في مقاربة الهدف.

طبعاً، ومع هذه الاستدارة، لا يريد أحد أن يزيد من حجم التحديات أو التوقعات، وكأن هناك تفهماً غير معلن وغير مكتوب أن لكلّ بلد أولويات واعتبارات، وأن الهدف ليس أن يتخلّى أحد عن رؤاه ومصالحه، بل أن يتفهم رؤى الآخر ومصالحه، وأن يتقبل الاختلافات ويسرع الخطى في البناء على المشتركات، وهذه مقاربة واقعية واعدة إذا ما تم تعزيز هذا النهج وتعميقه في مجالات العمل العربي المشتركة، وفي اللقاءات والقمم العربية القادمة.

أما اللقاءات الثنائية، سواء على مستوى أعضاء الوفود الرسمية أو على مستوى الزعماء، فكانت تبدو وديّة، بصرف النظر عما يروّج له الإعلام الغربي والإعلام المغرض من مواقف متشددة أو معارضة لهذا الشأن أو ذاك. وبدا ذلك واضحاً في اللقاءات غير الرسمية التي سبقت انعقاد القمة، إذ كان الجميع يسلّمون على بعضهم ويتفقدون أحوال بعضهم في مفارقة كبيرة لما يروّجه الإعلام الذي يستهدفنا جميعاً من فروقات حادة بين هذا البلد وذاك، ونتيجة هذا الموقف أو هذه السياسة أو تلك. كل أعضاء الوفود تحدثوا مع بعضهم بحرارة ومودّة، ولم أرَ أحداً يعزف عن رؤية أحد أو يتهرب من اللقاء به أو الحديث معه.

وبدا لي في هذا اللقاء الذي استمرّ أقلّ من ساعة قبل الاجتماع الرسمي نبض الشعب العربي والحرص على الالتزام بقضاياه، كل قضاياه، والاعتزاز بالصامدين والمنتمين لأفكارهم وللعروبة والشاعرين بالاعتزاز والكبر في وجه محاولات الاستفراد ببلد دون آخر. وكانت فلسطين وتضحيات الشعب الفلسطيني حاضرة في وجدان الجميع وأحاديثهم، والأمل الكبير بمستقبل أفضل لليمن وليبيا، والسعادة الواضحة بوجود سوريا بين أهلها وإخوانها، وأهمية أن تكون سوريا حاضرة لما لها من تاريخ حضاري وانتماء عروبي وحرص مشهود لها على تعزيز العمل العربي المشترك.

وهنا، لا بدّ أن نتذكر أن كابوس الغرب والدول الاستعمارية يكمن في مقاربة عربية توحد الرؤى والصفوف، ولذلك ركّز الإعلام المغرض على التحديات والاختلافات، وعلى أي ثغرة يمكن له أن يدخل منها ويزيد في عمقها واتساعها. وهذا ليس جديداً لأن سياسة من يستهدف هذه الأمة قامت على قاعدة بسيطة وقديمة وهي التفريق بين أبنائها، ودبّ الشك والريبة بين صفوف مواطنيها، سواء في داخل البلد الواحد أو على مستوى الأمة.

الحقيقة هي أن القادة العرب بمعظمهم عبّروا عن سعادتهم بحضور سوريا، وأملهم أن يكون هذا اللقاء فاتحة مرحلة عمل عربي جديدة وغنية تعود بالخير على الشعب العربي في جميع أقطاره. كما تناولت اللقاءات الثنائية أهمية الاهتمام باللغة العربية؛ لغة التواصل ولغة الثقافة والمعبّرة عن هويتنا بكل أبعادها، والتحرر من الاستلاب الغربي الذي فرضه الاستعمار علينا بأساليبه وقوة إعلامه وهيمنته.

والجديد في الأمر، والذي يثلج الصدر أنه لم تظهر أي توقعات أن تكون سياسة أي بلد انعكاساً لسياسة بلد آخر، بل أن نبحث عن المصلحة المشتركة خاصة في هذا العالم الذي يتّجه ليكون عالماً متعدد الأقطاب، حيث لكل بلد عربي خياراته المستقلة التي تعكس مصالحه القطرية، ولكن مع التشديد على المشترك بين المصالح العربية، وهذا يعني التخلّص من العقلية التي حكمت العمل العربي لمراحل عديدة وهي: “إما أن نتفق معاً على كل شيء أو لا علاقة أبداً بين بلداننا”.

يحذونا الأمل أن يعني هذا اقتراب التجربة العربية من النضج، والتوصّل إلى الاستنتاج السليم والهام، وهو أن نكون أشقاء وأصدقاء مع الاحترام لوجهات نظر الآخر، والاستفادة حتى من نقاط الاختلاف والتعلّم من تجارب بعضنا بعضاً، لما فيه خيرنا جميعاً. ولا شك في أن ما حدث لسوريا والمواقف حيالها والنتائج التي تمخّضت عن كل هذا الاستهداف كان لها دور في درجة الوعي والشجاعة لدى العرب القادرين على إدارة شؤونهم، والساعين للتخلّص تماماً من الهيمنة الغربية وما تفرضه على بلداننا، استمراراً للعقلية الاستعمارية وسياسة النهب لمواردنا وثرواتنا.

ولم يكن ظهور زيلينسكي في القمة إلا محاولة فاشلة من قبل الدول الغربية التي تريد أن تثبت أنها ما زالت موجودة، بينما كان حضور سوريا الطاغي وحضور السيد الرئيس بشار الأسد واستكمال العروبة ألقها وحضورها هو الأهم في القمة، وهو الحدث الذي يُبنى عليه والعلامة الفارقة التي شدّت من أزر الجميع.

صناعة التاريخ تحتاج إلى وقت قبل وبعد انبعاث الوعي وشحذ الهمم، واليوم نستطيع أن نقول إن ما كنا نحلم به من وعي العرب لمقدراتهم واستقلالهم الحقيقي ووزنهم الإقليمي بدأ يتبلور. ومن الجميل أن تكون انطلاقته من بلد عربي له وزنه في ضمير العرب والمسلمين وله تاريخه في الإنجازات التي تتحقق حالما تشبك السعودية وسوريا يداً بيد مع كل البلدان العربية الأخرى التي تتشاطر الإدراك والعزيمة على بناء مستقبل واعد لأجيالنا القادمة يليق بأمة اختار الله عزّ وجل لغتها لرسالته السماوية، وأنتجت من العلوم ما ساهم في نهضة العالم وازدهار شعوبه في قارات الأرض المختلفة.

في هذا المسار يلعب الإعلام المنتمي والهادف دوراً هاماً في دحض الافتراءات التي لا يتوقف الإعلام المغرض عن نشرها، وفي الانتباه إلى تسليط الضوء على النقاط المضيئة من العمل العربي بثقة بالنفس والمستقبل، ويقين أن هذه الأمة قادرة على النهوض وتشكيل وزن إقليمي ودولي يحسب له حساب.

إن الآراء المذكورة في هذه المقالة لا تعبّر بالضرورة عن رأي الميادين وإنما تعبّر عن رأي صاحبها حصراً

Hezbollah Wargames Say Next Battle against Israeli Enemy will Be in Palestine: Sheikh Qassem

 May 23, 2023

Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem

Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem stressed on Tuesday that the Resistance wargames sent a message of readiness and deterrence to the Zionist enemy.

In an interview with Al-Manar TV on Resistance and Liberation DAy, Sheikh Qassem indicated that the Resistance wanted to tell the Israeli enemy that the next battle will be in occupied Palestine.

“During the upcoming war, Zionists will not be able to sip coffee in Tel Aviv. The Israelis will see what they have not seen if they commit any folly”

Sheikh Qassem said that Hezbollah military drills displayed only a party of the Resistance arsenal, without showing the precision-guided missiles and much more.

His eminence reiterated that Hezbollah supports unifying the fronts against teh Zionst enemy, pointing out that Israelis must know that they can never violate the deterrence formulas maintained by the Resistance.

Sheikh Qassem indicated USA and ‘Israel’ acknowledge that Hezbollah Resistance has developed several classical weapons, including missiles and canons.

130 mm artillery developed by Hezbollah

Hezbollah Deputy Chief said that Resistance and Liberation Day is a national occasion, adding that those who exclude themselves from this pride are to be blamed.

Sheikh Qassem called for disregarding the remarks that oppose the path of resistance, adding that some of them had cooperated with the enemy during certain stages.

On the other hand, Sheikh Qassem pointed out that maintaining stability among Arab countries serve the Palestinian cause and the entire Ummah, adding that Hezbollah supports the Iranian-Saudi agreement.

His eminence noted that the Syrian President Bashar Assad has attended the Arab Summit with all his pro-resistance stances and after emerging victorious from a 13-year war.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General indicated that the presidential deadlock in Lebanon is caused by the stubbornness of some political parties, calling for resorting the constitutional norms in order to elect a new president.

Sheikh Qassem added that the Free Patriotic Movement and Lebanese Forces intend to have a joint nomination without having a joint project.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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President Bashar Al-Assad Victory Speech at Arab League Summit



President Bashar Al-Assad delivered yesterday a concise but brutally important speech at the Arab League summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, most political analysts described it as the Syrian and Assad’s victory speech after 12 years of futile concerted US-led, NATO combined participation, Arab-contributed efforts to overthrow the Syrian government, divide Syria, control West Asia, and isolate Russia, China, and Iran from the rest of the world.

The following is the full speech of President Assad at the Arab League summit with English subtitles followed by the full transcript of the English translation of the speech:

The video is also available on Rumble and BitChute,


Your Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Your Majesties, Sovereigns and Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Where does one begin his speech when the dangers are no longer imminent, but realized? It begins with the hope that motivates achievement and action, and when ailments accumulate, the doctor can treat them individually, provided that he treats the underlying disease that causes them; therefore, we have to search for the major titles that threaten our future and produce our crises so we do not drown, and drown future generations in dealing with the results, not the causes.

Threats contain dangers and opportunities, and today we are facing the opportunity of the international situation change, which appears in a multipolar world as a result of the domination of the West devoid of principles, morals, friends and partners.

It is a historic opportunity to rearrange our affairs with the least amount of foreign interference, which requires repositioning us in this world that is being formed today in order for us to be an active part in it, investing in the positive atmosphere arising from the reconciliations that preceded the summit, leading to it today.

It is an opportunity to consolidate our culture in the face of the upcoming meltdown with modern liberalism that targets the innate affiliations of man and strips him of his morals and identity and to define our Arab identity with its civilizational dimension while it is falsely accused of ethnicity and chauvinism with the aim of making it in a state of conflict with the natural, national, ethnic and religious components, so it dies and our societies die with it in its struggle with itself and not with others.

The titles are too many for words, and summits are not enough (to handle), they do not begin with the crimes of the Zionist entity, rejected by the Arabs, against the resisting Palestinian people, and do not end with the danger of expansionist Ottoman thought grafted with a deviant fraternal (Muslim Brotherhood) flavor. They are not separated from the challenge of development as a top priority for our developing societies.

Here comes the role of the League of Arab States, being the natural platform for discussing and addressing various issues, provided that it develops its work system by reviewing the Charter and the rules of procedure and developing its mechanisms to keep pace with the times.

Joint Arab action needs common visions, strategies, and goals that we later turn into executive plans that need a unified policy, firm principles, and clear mechanisms and controls, then we will move from reaction to anticipation of events, and the (Arab) League will be a breathing outlet in the event of a siege, not an accomplice in it, a refuge from aggression not a platform for it.

As for the issues that concern us daily, from Libya to Syria, passing through Yemen and Sudan, and many other issues in different regions, we cannot treat diseases by treating symptoms, as all of these issues are the results of larger titles that have not been addressed previously.

As for talking about some of them, it needs to address the rifts that have arisen in the Arab arena over the past decade and to restore the League’s role as a healer of wounds, not as a deepener for them. The most important thing is to leave the internal issues to their people, as they are able to manage their affairs, and we only have to prevent external interference in their countries and help them exclusively upon request.

As for Syria, its past, present and future is Arabism, but it is an Arabism of belonging, not an Arabism of hugging, hugging is fleeting, but belonging is permanent. A person may move from one hugging to another for some reason, but it does not change his affiliation. As for the one who changes it, he is without affiliation in the first place, and whoever falls into the heart does not languish in the hugging, and Syria is the heart of Arabism and in its heart.

Ladies and Gentlemen, As we convene this summit in a turbulent world, hope rises in light of the Arab-Arab, regional and international rapprochement that culminated in this summit, which I hope will mark the beginning of a new phase of Arab action for solidarity among us, for peace in our region, for development and prosperity instead of war and destruction.

In keeping with the five minutes allotted for speaking, I would like to extend my deep thanks to the heads of delegations who have expressed their deep-rooted affection towards Syria and reciprocate them, I also thank the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques (Saudi King) for the great role he played and the intense efforts he made to promote reconciliation in our region and for the success of this summit, I wish him and His Highness the Crown Prince and the brotherly Saudi people continued progress and prosperity, and peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you.

End of the transcript.

The Arab League had two important summits in the past 12 years, the first one was when the Qatari-led powerless US-dominated Arabs illegally expelled Syria from the League it was an establishing member 26 years before Qatar state came into existence, illegally because they failed to adhere to the League’s Charter to obtain a unanimous decision on expelling Syria; and the second was yesterday, May 19th, 2023, in which Syria restored the Arab League from the USA and its regional poodles.

During the past 12 years, the evil camp, the US-led camp of criminal regimes including the European Union countries, the Gulfies, and some Arab states, NATO other countries, especially Turkey, NATO proxy entities spearheaded by Israel have combined their efforts to overthrow the Syrian government, during this period, the evil camp prioritized killing Syrians and destroying the cradle of civilization over their own people’s wellbeing, health, infrastructure, and even basic needs.

Estimates of hundreds of billions of dollars / Euros, Riyals, and all other currencies were spent to destroy Syria, the least estimates arrive at half a trillion dollars, that’s 500 billion US dollars, a large portion of which was paid by the Gulfies with Saudi Arabia and Qatar alone spending 138 billion dollars between early 2011 and May 2017, former Qatari PM Hamad bin Jassim admitted that much on his own state official TV. The US taxpayers contributed the next large portion, and the European Union taxpayers contributed the rest.

Hundreds of thousands of terrorists were recruited from across the planet and were dumped into Syria from all its borders, the Syrian Arab Army alone managed to eliminate 125,000 of those between early March 2011 and September 2015 when the Russian air force joined the war against the world’s largest terrorist army and was effectively destroying their logistical supply routes and depots.

There’s still much to do to complete the victory, the expelling of the armies of NATO ‘defensive’ alliance, the Turkish and US armies, and their proxy terrorists, ISIS, al Qaeda, and the Kurdish SDF separatists being the top priority to restore Syria’s sovereignty. Then the battle to rebuild what the USA and its proxies destroyed.

The victory of Syria after all those years, all that wasted money and lives, all that mayhem and carnage, all that suffering, helped bring back the world’s balance from the hands of the few ruling the West. President Assad’s concise speech turned a page on 12 years of the main part of the final chapter of one of history’s most criminal empires, the USA and its Western cronies.

Arabic transcript of President Bashar Al Assad’s speech is on page 2

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Al-Assad in Jeddah: Damascus holds to same principles despite war

May 19, 2023

Source: Al Mayadeen + Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Arab countries approached Damascus in recent weeks to mend ties with Syria, which emerged victorious against the international war against it.

Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad arrives in Jeddah, to attend the Arab League summit the following day, Saudi Arabia, May 18, 2023. (Reuters)

After over 12 years of the war launched on Syria, President Bashar al-Assad landed in Saudi Arabia to take part in the Arab League Summit, remaining true to his policies despite the international campaign targeting Damascus.

Al-Assad arrived in the coastal city of Jeddah on the Red Sea on Thursday evening to attend the annual Arab summit.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry welcomed the Syrian president in a significant post on its Twitter account, saying: “Welcome your Excellency President Bashar Al-Assad, President of the Syrian Arab Republic, to participate in the Jeddah Summit.”

Al-Assad received an invitation from Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz to participate in the 32nd session of the Council of the League of Arab States, which announced on May 7 that Syria’s membership in the body has been restored.

Riyadh re-established relations with Syria, and announced earlier this month the resumption of the work of its diplomatic mission in Damascus.

Arab leaders began to arrive in Jeddah on Thursday to participate in the assembly, but the leaders of Morocco, Algeria, Oman, the UAE, Kuwait and Sudan said they will not attend.

Read more: As the Arab summit draws near, Israeli fear on the rise: Israeli media

Sudan and Yemen on the agenda

Two urgent crises are expected to be the center focus of the leaders’ agenda: the conflict that has been going on for a month now in Sudan, and the ongoing eight-year war in Yemen.

The Palestinian cause, developments in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the situation in Lebanon, particularly the presidential vacuum, and the situation of the Syrian and Palestinian refugees will be part of the summit’s scheduled issues.

Read more: ‘Israel’ turns Al-Quds into military barracks amid ‘Flag March’

In addition to the major challenges facing the Middle East, international issues will also be addressed, most notably the war in Ukraine, according to Khaled Manzalawi, Assistant Secretary-General for International Political Affairs at the Arab League.

“It must be emphasized that there will be an urgent need for consensus and collective solidarity… This is a very dangerous stage in the history of the world, which is witnessing the remapping of international relations,” Manzalawi said.

“The Arab consensus will achieve a unified Arab position that gives weight to the Arab action, and makes the Arab decision heard, not only at the regional level, but will go beyond that to the global scale as well.”

Read more: Sudan: A borderless conflict

Qatar loses diplomatic weight with growth of Saudi influence

On the other hand, the Arab League’s welcome for the return of the Syrian president highlights the setback suffered by Qatar’s efforts to be a significant diplomatic voice in the Middle East, Reuters reported on Friday.

Qatar and the United States had earlier declared their opposition to restoring ties with Damascus, but Doha indicated that it would not be an “obstacle” to the step taken by the Arab countries.

Analysts see, according to Reuters, that Doha is toning down its position on Syria, which is an indication of a possible retreat from its once ambitious regional foreign policy, in an attempt not to anger its powerful neighbors.

Riyadh used its influence to push the member states of the Arab League to return Syria to the body, according to the head of Gulf State Analytics, Giorgio Cafiero.

“Qatar didn’t want to play any obstructive role that would have risked angering the leadership in Riyadh and other Arab capitals,” he added.

The Gulf state and the United States collaborated to form the international campaign on Damascus and enforce a change of leadership in Syria, said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Qatar’s Al Jazeera beat “the drums of regime change” by channeling videos of Syrian governmnent forces clashing with protestors, Landis added. Doha “understands full well that they’ve lost, but it wants to be the last country to normalize with Syria,” Landis concluded.

Doha’s main focus today is to establish good ties with neighboring countries, especially Saudi Arabia, a diplomat told the news site. “This makes them keen to avoid getting involved in regional confrontations and that is why they are less engaged in Yemen and Sudan than in former times.”

Qatar assumed that the war “was going to result in an overthrow” of the Syrian government, Mehran Kamrava, Professor of Government at Georgetown University Qatar, noted, adding that as Damascus emerged victorious from the war, “Saudi Arabia and the UAE shifted their policy most dramatically but Qatar has not.”

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Arab Leaders Convene in Jeddah, Welcome Syrian President Bashar Assad

May 19, 2023

Arab Summit in Jeddah

The 32nd Arab Summit convened on Friday in the Saudi city of Jeddah in presence of the Lebanese prime minister Najib Mikati, the Syrian President Bashar Assad and 13 other leaders.

Arab Summit

The Arab League had suspended since 2011 Syria  participation as a number of Arab regimes were involved in backing the terrorist war on the Syrian people, army and government.

On May 7, 2023, Arab League foreign ministers adopted a decision to readmit Syria, consolidating a regional push to normalize ties with the country that confronted a devastating terrorist war during the latest decade.

The Arab Summit in Jeddah has concentrated on Syria participation, the centrality of the Palestinian cause and the crisis in Sudan.

The opening speeches welcomed President Assad, hoping that Syria return to the Arab League contributes to the restoration of its stability.

Mikati: We look forward to KSA’s support and gesture towards Lebanon to rise again

Caretaker Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, on Friday said in his speech at the 32nd Arab Summit in Jeddah: “Allow me to call this summit the ‘healing wounds” Summit, as it was preceded by an agreement to restore normal relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and also the return of sisterly Syria to play its full role in the League of Arab States.”

He continued: “We all know the Arab problems and issues, from the tragedy of Palestine, to Yemen and recently to the unfortunate situation in Sudan, but I want to talk about my country, Lebanon, which continues to suffer from multiple crises that have weighed heavily on the Lebanese people…”

He said, “This situation has become more complicated with the presidential vacancy and the impossibility of electing a new president. In addition, Lebanon has never hesitated to open its doors to our displaced Syrian brothers, out of faith in the brotherhood of the two peoples and the advancement of humanitarian considerations over everything else. However, the long duration of the crisis, the failure to address it, and the very large increase in the number of displaced persons, render the displacement crisis greater than Lebanon’s ability to bear, in terms of its infrastructure, social influences and political repercussions at home, and in terms of the natural right of those displaced to return to their cities and villages.”

He added, “This return cannot be achieved without combined Arab efforts, with the support of the international community, and through communication and dialogue with sisterly Syria within the framework of an inclusive and stimulating Arab position through construction and recovery projects for the demolished areas to set a road map for the return of the Syrian brethren to their homes.”

He added, “This return cannot be achieved without combined Arab efforts, with the support of the international community, and through communication and dialogue with the sisterly Syria within the framework of an inclusive and stimulating Arab position through construction and recovery projects for the demolished areas to set a road map for the return of the Syrian brethren to their homes.”

He continued, “In this meeting, it is necessary to affirm Lebanon’s respect for all successive international resolutions issued by the UN Security Council and the decisions of the Arab League and its charter, and its commitment to implementing its provisions. I also affirm, in the name of all of Lebanon, respecting the interests of brotherly countries, their sovereignty, and their social and political security, and combating the export of contraband to them and everything that harms stability in them. It is a firm commitment that stems from a sense of responsibility towards our brethren and our concern for their security and safety and the purity and sincerity of fraternal relations with them.”

He concluded: “Whoever was able to transfer the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its youth to the leadership and pioneering positions they have reached and transform the Kingdom into a productive country in every sense of the word, in a short period, will not find it difficult to support brotherly Lebanon. From here, we look forward to the Kingdom’s support and its fraternal gesture towards my country, Lebanon, so that it can rise again.”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman welcomed Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad back to the Arab League.

“We are pleased today by the attendance of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in this summit,” Bin Salman said in a speech, adding he hoped the return would lead to “stability” in Syria.

President al-Assad: We are in front of a historic opportunity to rearrange our affairs with the least amount of foreign intervention

President Bashar Al-Assad addressed the summit, saying, “We have to search about the big titles that pose threat to our future and produce our crises in order to not drown in addressing the results, not the reasons.”

President Al-Assad said the headlines are too many for words, and summits are not enough… They do not begin with the crimes of the Zionist entity, which is rejected by the Arabs, and do not end with the danger of the Ottoman expansionist mentality and are inseparable from the challenge of development as a top priority for our developing societies, here comes the role of the League of Arab States as the natural platform for discussing various issues and addressing them.

“We are in front of a historic opportunity to rearrange our affairs with the least amount of foreign intervention,” the President said.

The Syrian President added that the joint Arab action is in need to common visions, strategies and targets.

President al-Assad hoped the Summit would be a starting point for the Arab action, solidarity among Arab states to achieve peace, prosperity and development in the region instead of war and destruction.

The President added that the cracks that have emerged over the last decade must be addressed, and the most important thing is to let the people manage their internal affairs and avoid external interference in their affair.

President al-Assad thanked the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and his highness crown prince Mohammad bin Salman for the great role of Saudi Arabia and its efforts to boost reconciliation in the Arab region and make this summit a success.

The Algerian FM Ahmad Attaf welcomed President Assad, underlining the importance of restoring the Arab unity.

Attaf denounced the recent Zionist aggression on Gaza, calling on the UNSC  to halt the Israeli attacks on the Palestinians.

Arab Summit’s closing statement urges Lebanon to elect president, backs refugee return

The closing statement of the Summit underlined the importance of a fair settlement for the Palestinian cause, rejecting any foreign intervention that would fuel the crisis in Sudan.

The statement welcomed the agreement concluded by Iran and Saudi to reinforce the security and economic cooperation between the two countries.

The Arab summit called on the Lebanese to speedily elect a new president and form an effective government, underscoring the importance of the Syrian refugees return to their homeland.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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Sayyed Nasrallah: Gaza Resistance Defeated ’Israel’s’ Goals; Hezbollah Won’t Hesitate to Support at Any Time

May 12, 2023

By Al-Ahed News

Hezbollah Secretary Generla His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah emphasized that the resistance in Gaza managed to abort the ‘Israeli’ enemy’s goal to restore its power of deterrence, and despite all field and political pressures, it didn’t weaken.

Sayyed Nasrallah made the remarks on Friday afternoon during the event held to commemorate the seventh martyrdom anniversary of resistance leader Sayyed Mustafa Badreddine [Zolfiqar].

“The resistance is steadfast, and it refuses to end the battle without certain conditions. What happened until this day makes the enemy understand very well that any future assassination of any resistance fighter or leader in the Gaza Strip shall not pass, but would rather lead to a widescale confrontation,” the resistance leader underlined.

Terming the battle of Gaza as an important one, Sayyed Nasrallah said its impact are not limited with the strip alone, but with the region as a whole.

His Eminence went on to say that Hezbollah is in continuous communication with the resistance command in Gaza, voicing the Lebanese resistance group’s readiness to offer support at any time the responsibility requires this.

At the beginning of his speech, Sayyed Nasrallah condoled with and congratulated the Palestinian people and resistance factions, especially the Al-Quds Brigades, on the martyrdom of the leaders who were assassinated in the ‘Israeli’ strikes on Gaza.

Sayyed Nasrallah also condoled with the martyrdom of Palestinian detainee Sheikh Khader Adnan.

Referring to the occasion, the Hezbollah leader praised Sayyed Zolfiqar who achieved the medal of the fighter, the medal of the wounded in the Battle of Khalde against the ‘Israeli’ enemy, the medal of detention, the medal of leadership, and lastly the medal of martyrdom, which he described as the most sublime of them all.

“Sayyed Zolfiqar was deep in understanding, insightful, of a strategic mentality, which are the characteristics of many of our leaders,” His Eminence added.

Commenting on the current regional developments, Sayyed Nasrallah underlined that Lebanon is often affected by the unfolding incidents and developments, advising that realities must be approached honestly.

“Those who believed that ‘Israel’ was to remain in Lebanon and that Lebanon has entered the ‘Israeli’ era found out that they were wrong, and all of their bets and culture collapsed as they were built upon miscalculations,” His Eminence said.

To begin with Gaza, Sayyed Nasrallah explained that Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began the current aggression by assassinating the brothers in the Al-Quds Brigades in the besieged strip, along with a number of women and children. He then lamented the international silence this regard, slamming the US that banned the UNSC from condemning ‘Israel’ for killing Gaza women and children.

“Netanyahu has many motifs behind this aggression, which include restoring and rebuilding his deterrence, fleeing the internal crisis, dealing with the division in his government, and improving his political and electoral situation,” the Hezbollah leader analyzed, underscoring that all of Netanyahu’s calculations have failed as he decided to attack the Islamic Jihad and spare all other factions, and create chaos within the resistance environment.

“The occupation sought to strike the Al-Quds Brigades’ command and destroy its rocketry power by dismantling its direct commanders,” the resistance leader noted, stating, however, that the Islamic Jihad command was wise and calm after the assassination of its military leaders, and the Al-Quds Brigades contacted the Qassam Brigades to have a united stance regarding the developments.

“The enemy was waiting a reaction from the Islamic Jihad, and when the resistance factions dealt with the issue calmly, the enemy was confused. The wisdom in directing the battle makes the enemy lose the chance to achieve its goals,” Sayyed Nasrallah explained.

His Eminence went on to list the strengths of the resistance movements in Palestine and the region, praising that they are highly capable of rebuilding their leadership rapidly. “Despite assassinating its leaders, the resistance movements didn’t weaken, and its capabilities were not harmed; the shed blood was rather giving a push forward.”

Sayyed Nasrallah further noted that the quick rebuilding of the Al-Quds Brigades leadership surprised the occupation, which was confused by missiles reaching ‘Tel Aviv’ and Al-Quds.

“The resistance in Gaza failed the enemy’s goal of restoring its deterrence; and despite the field and political pressure, the Palestinian resistance didn’t weaken,” the Hezbollah leader underlined, stressing that today’s battle is the one of protecting and guaranteeing the Palestinian people’s security, and that what has happened so far makes the enemy understand well that any assassination shall not pass and will lead to a wide-scale confrontation.

“Netanyahu cannot lie and tell the ‘Israeli’ enemy that he restored the deterrence; and the battle of Gaza is very important and its impacts are not limited with the strip but with the entire region,” Sayyed Nasrallah said ahead of reiterating that Hezbollah is in continuous contact with the resistance leadership is Gaza, and voiced Hezbollah’s readiness to support the Palestinian at any time.

“We won’t hesitate to offer help at any time we have to,” the Lebanese resistance leader said.

Moving to the Syrian issue, Sayyed Nasrallah termed Syria’s return to the Arab League and inviting President Assad to the Arab summit as a very important indicator.

“Syria remained in its position, it didn’t shift its stance or its axis,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, adding that the Iranian President’s visit to Syria emphasizes the Iranian-Syrian strategic relations on different levels.

“Syria today is strongly present in the Turkish elections where the candidates are competing to offer their visions regarding Damascus.”

The Hezbollah chief then voiced support for every positive development regarding Syria: “We see in every recovery and progress in Syria the faces of our martyrs and their sacrifices, and our loneliness when the world was criticizing our choice in supporting Syria.”

Sayyed Nasrallah slammed the US looting of the Syrian oil and gas and its insistence on besieging the country through the Caesar Act.

“All the positive developments in Syria happened thanks to the steadfastness of its leadership, people, and army; Syria is heading to ease and the difficult days won’t return,” His Eminence said.

On the local level, Sayyed Nasrallah asked the caretaker government to restore Lebanon’s ties with Syria, stressing that had Hezbollah been the side making decisions in the country, ties with Syria would have been restored ages ago as they serve Lebanon’s interests.

“The issue of the refugees won’t be solved through incitation and on social media platforms, but rather through a ministerial and security delegation that visits Damascus and coordinates to deal with the crisis,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, underlining that a sovereign decision in coordination with the Syrian state is a main condition to deal with the Syrian refugees’ crisis.

Additionally, Sayyed Nasrallah reiterated that Hezbollah doesn’t prevent anybody from returning to the Syrian border villages, refuting the entire propaganda as mere lies, and emphasizing that Hezbollah was the most interested side in returning the people of Al-Qusayr and other villages to their houses.

Besides, the Hezbollah chief contested all news about any link of drug smugglers in Syria with Hezbollah. “All of this is unjust, and hadn’t it been for Hezbollah’s support, the Lebanese authorities wouldn’t have been able to confront several drug dealers in Lebanon.”

Also in his proof, Sayyed Nasrallah insisted that “Our religious and jihadi stance rejects seeking the help of drug smugglers to transfer the arms of resistance to Palestine,” urging the Lebanese state to expose the names of the drug traders and dealers in which people would learn to whom they belong.

On the presidential level, Sayyed Nasrallah reiterated that ex-minister Suleiman Franjieh is Hezbollah’s regular and serious candidate, making clear that Hezbollah doesn’t impose any candidate, and urging everybody to name their candidates so we can go for election in the parliament.

“The Lebanese caretaker government must resume its work despite all difficulties; and we hope that the parliament operates normally and this doesn’t affect the necessity of electing a president,” His Eminence also said.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Sayyed Nasrallah opposed the government’s appointment of a new governor for the Central Bank of Lebanon, as well as extending the mandate of the current governor.

At the end of his speech, the Hezbollah leader said “We, the Lebanese people, must take advantage of the positive atmosphere in the region,” stressing that “on the Arab level, there are no permanent hostilities.”

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Iran Ready to Arm Syria with Advanced Weapons: Defense Minister

May, 08, 2023

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani said Tehran is prepared to equip the Syrian military forces with sophisticated weapons and open “strategic defense gear” factories in the Arab country.

The Iranian defense minister, who was accompanying the Iranian president during a visit to Syria last week, held a meeting with his Syrian counterpart Ali Mahmoud Abbas in Damascus to weigh plans for closer cooperation between the two states.

Highlighting Iran’s support for Syria in a full-fledged war against the Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) terrorist group, General Ashtiani said the Defense Ministry of Iran is prepared to arm the Syrian armed forces with the most advanced defense weapons.

Voicing Iran’s readiness to establish “defense and multilateral infrastructures” in Syria and strengthen the Arab nation’s military arms capabilities, the defense minister said Iran can cooperate with Damascus in the construction of factories and production of “strategic defense equipment” in order to improve the Syrian people’s security.

For his part, the Syrian defense minister expressed gratitude to Iran for contributing to security and stability in his country.

General Mahmoud Abbas underlined that strengthened defense power will prepare Syria as a member of the axis of resistance in the war on terrorism.

Warning of hostile attempts to undermine the brotherly ties between Syria and Iran, the Syrian defense minister stated that the bilateral relations are growing to the benefit of regional security and stability.

In July 2020, Iran and Syria signed a comprehensive agreement to enhance their cooperation in the military and defense sectors.

Iran began providing Syria with advisory military assistance after numerous countries, at the head of them the US and its Western and regional allies started funding and arming militants and terrorists with the aim of deposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government in 2011.

Despite initially losing considerable expanses of territory to Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) and other terror outfits, the country, however, rallied with the help of Iran and Russia, another ally of Damascus, and reversed the balance in favor of itself on the battleground.

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Syria says ‘mutual respect’, ‘dialogue’ basis of new Arab relations

May 7, 2023

Source: Al Mayadeen Net + Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

The Syrian Arab Republic confirms the importance of collective joint action between Arab states to tackle common challenges.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry building in Damascus, Syria (Sputnik)

The Syrian Foreign Ministry stressed on Sunday that an effective Arab approach on the bilateral and collective levels that is based on dialogue, respect, and common interests is the next step required to address common challenges facing Arab countries.

The Ministry’s remarks come after the Council of the Arab League announced in an extraordinary meeting on Sunday readmitting the Syrian Arab Republic as a full member, 12 years after suspending its membership following the start of the war on the country.

The Arab countries must take “an effective approach based on mutual respect,” the Foreign Ministry added in a statement, emphasizing the “importance of joint work and dialogue to undertake the challenges facing Arab countries.”

Read more: FMs of Turkey, Russia, Syria, and Iran to meet next week

Damascus had received with interest the Council’s decision to resume the participation of Syrian government delegations in the meetings of the body and its affiliated bodies, the statement read.

“Syria has followed the positive trends and interactions currently taking place in the Arab region, which it believes are in the interest of all Arab countries and in the interest of achieving stability, security, and prosperity for its [region’s] people,” the Ministry added.

“Syria, a founding member of the League of Arab States, renews its continuous position on the need to strengthen joint Arab action and cooperation.”

In a statement to Al Mayadeen, the spokesperson of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, Ahmad Al-Sahhaf, said, “This return is not only for Syria as a party, but rather a return to the path of collective Arab action,” stressing that “the Syrian issue will be settled politically, through dialogue, and with continued Arab coordination and support.”

For his part, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said, “All stages of the Syrian crisis have proven that there is no military solution to it,” adding that “a political solution with exclusive Syrian ownership without external dictates” is the only way to settle the Syrian crisis.

The League’s decision comes ten days ahead of a planned Arab summit in Saudi Arabia on May 19,  with all eyes now focused on whether Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad will personally participate.

Read more: Raisi: Iran will always support Syria

The geopolitical shifts are taking place in the region despite strong opposition from Washington.

Last month, Vedant Patel, the principal deputy spokesperson for the State Department, said the United States does not currently think that Syria merits readmission to the League of Arab States.

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Assad holds talks with Raisi prior to his departure from Damascus

May 5, 2023

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Al Mayadeen English 

The Syrian and Iranian presidents emphasize actions needed to revive agreements that were signed during the Iranian President’s visit to Damascus.

  • President Bashar Al-Assad during his talks with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad held a session of talks with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi prior to his departure from Damascus.

During the talks, the two presidents emphasized actions needed to revive agreements that were signed during the Iranian President’s visit in order to boost the relationship between the two countries and their peoples.

Al-Assad and Raisi also tackled the process needed to establish a joint bank to support economic activities and addressed the economic steps that would be worked on during the next phase in the power, energy, and tourism sectors among others.

Raisi arrived in Syria on Wednesday on an official visit, marking the first trip to the Arab country by an Iranian President in over 10 years.

The Iranian President held talks with his Syrian counterpart and also met with Syrian Prime Minister Hussein Arnous and Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad.

Read next: Exclusive interview with Raisi: Iran ready to join BRICS

Syria can turn sanctions into opportunities

On Thursday, Raisi confirmed that a number of agreements were made during the recent meeting with Al-Assad, noting that 15 documents were signed to facilitate all required procedures and open a new page in relations between the two countries.

During a forum of businessmen in Damascus, Raisi said that “the Iranian people and Iranian officials always stand by the Syrian people,” adding that “the volume of trade exchange between the two countries does not amount to the volume of political relations between us, and therefore the volume of exchange must be expanded in a way that is more reflective of our relations.”

He indicated that “the will of the two governments is to expand economic relations” and cooperation in all fields.

Addressing the businessmen, Raisi said, “It is important that your [merchants] will is to exert economic efforts so that the conditions of both our nations change for the better.”

“Iran has turned the sanctions imposed on it into opportunities,” he added, noting that it is also possible for Syria to turn sanctions into opportunities.

The Iranian president pointed out that “this visit will constitute a positive and good turning point for the development of relations between the two countries,” adding, “You will see the impact of this visit on the economic relations between the two countries and the region as a whole.”

Read next: Iran, Syria rapprochement highlights decline in US regional influence

Iran and Syria Call for End of Western Economic Domination, Withdrawal of All Foreign Troops from the Region

May 04, 2023 

by Peoples Dispatch

Both the countries signed numerous agreements to boost their economic cooperation and called it a joint effort to face the impact of unilateral sanctions imposed by the US and its allies on their economies

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad signed a host of agreements in Damascus. Photo: SANA

The Syrian and Iranian presidents met in Damascus and announced their resolve to work for greater regional stability. They stressed that the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the region was necessary for this purpose. They emphasized that their mutual cooperation in the economic field is intended to be a strategic move to counter the impact of illegal unilateral sanctions imposed by the US and some of its allies.

The countries signed a long-term comprehensive strategic cooperation agreement during the state visit of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to Damascus on Wednesday, May 3. They also signed long-term cooperation agreements in various economic areas such as agriculture, oil, transport, and others. 

Raisi is the first Iranian president to visit the country in the last 13 years. He was accompanied by his foreign, economic, and transport ministers, and the chief of Iran’s central bank.  

After the meeting, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad claimed that the various economic projects agreed upon between Iran and Syria would help “mitigate the impacts of sanctions” and aid in liberating “international economics from Western hegemony.” He also emphasized that both countries agreed that it has been an old colonial tactic to “undermine the stability of countries and divide them.” However, countries in the region need to take advantage of the improving relations to find common grounds for peace and prosperity, Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported.  

Regional stability 

Assad was referring to the recent rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran after years of tension and hostility. Following the rapprochement, the peace talks in Yemen have made headway. Saudi Arabia has also discarded its decade long anti-Syria policy and has taken diplomatic steps to restore Syria’s membership to the Arab League from which it was suspended in 2011.   

He also thanked Raisi for playing a significant role in the ongoing quadripartite meeting in Moscow. The representatives of Russia, Iran, Syria and Turkey participated in the last meeting held on April 25. The forum is primarily discussing ways to normalize relations between Syria and Turkey. Syria has emphasized that its focus is on the withdrawal of all occupying forces from its territory and halting of all international support to terrorism in the country. 

It was with the help of Iran and Russia that the Syrian government was able to restore its control over most of the country’s territory after almost 12 years of war. However, Turkish and US forces still occupy significant parts of territory in Syria’s north-west and east, respectively. Both of them also support different anti-Assad forces in the country.

President Raisi praised the people of Syria for their steadfastness and for withstanding terrorism and international attempts to divide and destroy the country for over a decade. He said, “we [Iran] are in the process of developing our relations with countries of the region and we will seek to expand them without the presence of foreigners.” 

Raisi noted that the presence of foreigners in the region brings conflicts and instability and asked the US forces to leave the region immediately. He emphasized that Syrian sovereignty over all its territory must be respected.   

Iran Embarks on a New Era: No Separation from Syria

 May 5, 2023

Syrian Presidnet Bashar Al-Assad with Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi during a historic visit to Damascus (May 3, 2023).

Hamza Al-Khansa*

Translated by Areej Fatima Al-Husseini

The visit of Iran’s President, Ibrahim Raisi, comes amid a time filled with distinct occurrences. Whether it is at the level of bolstering Syrian-Arab ties and the Iranian-Saudi accord under Chinese auspices, or at the level of the country’s economic crisis prompted by stringent US “Caesar” sanctions. In addition, while some Arabs attributed the efforts to rekindle the Arab League – Syria harmony to the latter’s distance from Iran, Raisi’s visit showed up. The unprecedented visit, in terms of circumstances and expected outcomes, came to confirm that the two allies’ relation is strategic.

Deep-Rooted Relations

In this context, a source in the Iranian president’s delegation stated to the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar that “Iranian-Syrian relations are deep-rooted and robust, and not a single force can separate the two countries, particularly as they have made sacrifices together in combating extremism and terrorism.”

“Raisi’s visit is quite normal,” the source noted, “and it comes in the context of providing support to the Syrian people. It also revitalizes the two nations’ economic relations, ensuring that their people profit primarily.”

In the same context, the Iranian source asserts the visit is in response to attempts aimed at compelling Damascus to choose between the Arabs and Tehran.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has changed its policies,” the source remarked. “In light of this, we reached an agreement with it that contributed significantly to the development of ties between Riyadh and Damascus, which is a positive step. We hope that the conditions in the entire region will be normalized”, the source added.

Stimulating Economies

As one of the prominent headlines of Raisi’s visit to Damascus was the economic aspect, Syrians hope that this visit will reflect positively on their country’s exhausting economic situation. This can be accomplished by the swift endorsement of the visit’s outcomes and the implementation of the major economic and commercial agreements struck during the visit.

The same source confirms that “the signed agreements have a positive impact on the lives of the Syrian people as well as the Iranian economy.” “President Raisi’s government is keen to foster economic ties, particularly between Iran and Syria. This issue was neglected in the past, and we must develop it now because of the positive impact it will have on the two peoples”, the source added.

The Axis of Resistance Comes First

The other key component of the visit, connected to strengthening the Axis of Resistance, was a “main course” on the discussion menu between the Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi, and his Syrian counterpart, Bashar Al-Assad.

This comes after ‘Israel’ publicly conveyed its displeasure with the visit even before it took place, whether via its media or with the air strike on Aleppo Airport a few hours before Raisi’s airliner arrived at Damascus airport.

According to the Iranian source, “the Israeli raids did not and will not change the reality in Syria.” Rather, they reinforce the logic that the Israeli entity is not acceptable as a legitimate entity in the region.”

Speaking of developing Syria’s capability to respond to these violations, the source tells Al-Akhbar that “the repeated Israeli attacks on Syria, particularly the recent attack on Aleppo Airport, are in violation of the international law. Such violations are committed by the apartheid regime that has killed numerous civilians in recent years, in addition to its support for the terrorists there.”

*Hamza Al-Khansa writes for Al-Akhbar Lebanese newspaper. This article was published by the daily on Thursday, May 04, 2023.

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Assad Welcomes Raisi at Al-Shaab Palace: Syrian-Iranian Relations Stable despite Political and Security Storms

 May 3, 2023

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday received Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who has arrived in Syria, heading a large ministerial delegation on a two-day historic visit to Syria aimed at deepening relations between the two key regional states.

The two leaders signed a memo of understanding for the long-term strategic comprehensive cooperation plan between both countries.

During the plenary talks with the Iranian President, President Bashar al-Assad said “the Syrian-Iranian relations are rich in content, rich in experiences and rich in the insights that constituted them, and therefore, these relations were, during hard times, stable and firm despite of the severe political and security storms which struck the Middle East Region.”

For his part, President Raisi said “Syria, Government and People, have gone through large difficulties, and today we can say that you have surpassed all these problems and achieved victory despite of the threats and sanctions imposed on you.”

The two presidents discussed the bilateral relations in various fields and means of developing them.

Talks also dealt with the latest developments in the Middle East region and the reflections of the global changes on the region, and unifying efforts to invest these changes for the benefit of the two countries and the people of the region.

An official reception ceremony was held for the Iranian President upon his arrival at al-Shaab Palace, the two national anthems of Syria and Iran were played, then the two Presidents reviewed the guard of honor, and shook hands with members of the two official delegations.

Raisi arrived in Damascus International Airport on Wednesday morning in the first visit by an Iranian president in 13 years. He was welcomed by the Syrian Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade Mohammad Samer al-Khalil.

The Iranian president is in Syria upon an official invitation from President Bashar Al-Assad.

Several ministers are accompanying the Iranian president during his visit to Syria, including Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahia, Oil Minister Javad Owji, transportation minister Mehrdad Bazrpash, Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Gharaei Ashtiani, and the ICT minister Eisa Zarepour.

During the two-day visit, Raisi and his accompanying delegation are set to hold meetings with Syrian officials to discuss ways to strengthen and deepen political relations, as well as enhance the level of economic and trade cooperation between Tehran and Damascus.

Before his departure for Damascus, Raisi was quoted by Iranian media as saying: “Today, it is clear to everyone in the region that the Islamic Republic of Iran is considered a strong pillar that everyone can trust.”

“Iran’s positions and status are considered as a main and effective player in the developments of the region,” the Iranian president stressed.

“The will of the two countries is on the development of relations and there are many fields for expanding cooperation. In our talks, we are also pursuing the acceleration of the implementation of the agreements between the two countries, and I am sure that the expansion of relations between Tehran and Damascus will benefit the two nations and the region.”

The visit comes amid growing relations between the two countries that are leading members of a regional alliance against the Zionist regime.

Source: Agencies

Raisi in Damascus for landmark visit, first in 12 years since war

May 3 2023

Source: News websites

By Al Mayadeen English 

The President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi visits Syria in the first visit by an Iranian president to Damascus in 12 years.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi disembarking from a plane after arriving at Damascus airport, Syria, May 3, 2023. (Reuters)

The President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, has led a delegation and arrived in Damascus today, Wednesday, in response to an official invitation from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This is the first visit by an Iranian president to Syria in 12 years.

Raisi: Syria steadfast in the face of attacks

Before leaving for Damascus, Raisi articulated that it has become clear to everyone that the Syrian government must have the right to sovereignty and territorial integrity over all Syrian territories. He expressed his hopes that this visit would aid in the development and expansion of Iranian-Syrian relations, and that it would be a useful and influential visit for relations between the two countries.

Raisi stressed that “the groups created by the Americans, such as ISIS and others, shed blood and created chaos in the region and committed many crimes.”

He added that “resistance factions, the Syrian people, President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian government have proven that they are steadfast in the face of these attacks.”

“What the resistance, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and the Iranian advisors did, especially Martyr Qassem Soleimani, had an exceptional role in preserving the security of the region.”

Raisi to tour Syria

Al-Mayadeen‘s correspondent to Syria reported that Syria and Iran are set to sign agreements during the visit, noting that such agreements will be highlighted by economic ones.

Our correspondent added that the Iranian president will head immediately after his arrival at Damascus airport to the presidential palace to hold talks with President Assad, along with partaking in other meetings during his visit.

During his two-day visit to Syria, the Iranian president and his accompanying delegation will discuss ways to strengthen political relations and expand economic cooperation with senior Syrian officials. He will also attend a joint meeting between Iranian and Syrian businessmen, meet Iranian residents in Syria, and will also visit religious sites.

Syrian newspaper Al-Watan quoted “informed sources” as saying on April 28 that the visit “will witness the signing of a large number of cooperation agreements and memorandums of understanding covering various aspects of cooperation, especially in the fields of energy and electricity.”

For his part, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian described Raisi’s upcoming visit to Syria as a success for the government’s diplomacy in completing the process of regional integration.

Amir-Abdollahian, who will accompany Raisi on this visit, published a photo of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and martyr commander Qassem Soleimani, and wrote in a tweet: “I will soon leave for Syria with Dr. Raisi.”

He pointed out that the importance of this visit, in addition to the political, security and economic aspects, embodies the victory of the political will of the resistance and the success of government diplomacy in completing the process of regional integration.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi had spoken in an exclusive interview with Al-Mayadeen, broadcast on Tuesday about several political subjects, most notably the details of the Iranian-Saudi rapprochement, Iran’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and relations with Syria.

Raisi said that Tehran declared, from the outset, that its policy was to “go to neighboring countries,” and its decision was to establish good relations and good dealings with neighboring countries, and “to use the energies of the countries of the region to raise the level of relations” in all political, economic, cultural, and social fields.

It is noteworthy that Israeli media recently reported that this visit should be a cause of worry for “Israel.”

According to Channel 13, the worrying part for the occupation is that Iran wants to unify the axis of resistance in order to change geopolitics in the Middle East.


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ما لا ينتبه له الكثيرون بين سورية وإيران مع زيارة رئيسي

 الإثنين 1 أيار 2023

ناصر قنديل

تمثّل زيارة الرئيس الإيراني السيد إبراهيم رئيسي أول زيارة لرئيس إيراني لسورية منذ الأزمة التي عصفت بسورية والحرب التي شنّت عليها قبل اثنتي عشرة سنة، وكانت آخر زيارة لرئيس إيراني الى دمشق قد قام بها الرئيس أحمدي نجاد، وخرجت منها الصورة الشهيرة التي تجمعه بالرئيس السوري بشار الأسد وقائد المقاومة الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله، والتي اعتبرها البعض أحد أسباب الحرب الأميركية الإسرائيلية على سورية، بصفتها أول إعلان عن تشكيل نواة لمحور المقاومة. ومع زيارة الرئيس رئيسي تنتشر تعليقات وتحليلات ومواقف تتحدّث عن فرضية ضغوط إيرانية على سورية للتنازل عن شروطها لعقد لقاء قمة يجمع الرئيس الأسد بالرئيس التركي رجب أردوغان.

ما لا ينتبه له الكثيرون أن الحديث يدور عن دولتين تلاقى نظام الحكم في كل منهما على بناء جسر استراتيجيّ لا يهتزّ منذ قرابة خمسة وأربعين عاماً، هي عمر انتصار الثورة الإسلامية في إيران وارتباط سورية معها بهذا التحالف الاستراتيجي، الذي وجدت فيه سورية تعويضاً عن خروج مصر مع اتفاقيات كامب ديفيد من الصراع مع كيان الاحتلال. وقد لا تكون في العام دولتان يحكمهما نظام مستقر بقيادة لون سياسي واحد يحافظ على إدارته للدولة خلال مثل هذه المدة الطويلة وترتبطان بعلاقة مشابهة، ونجحتا خلال هذه المدة الطويلة بتجاوز محطات شديدة الصعوبة واحتواء حروب وضغوط وحصار، فوقفتا معاً وراء المقاومة في لبنان حتى انتصارها عام 2000، وانتصرتا معها في حرب تموز 2006 ومثلها مع المقاومة في فلسطين حتى تحرير غزة عام 2005 وانتصرتا معها في حرب 2008، وتحملتا معاً أعباء دعم المقاومة في العراق لاستنزاف الاحتلال الأميركي وإجباره على الانسحاب عام 2011، وكانت التجربة الأهم والأعظم لهما في الانتصار على الحرب الكونية التي تعرّضت لها سورية، والنصر الأهم فيها كان على تنظيم داعش، في سورية والعراق، وصولاً الى إنتاج تحالف ثلاثي سوري إيراني روسي كان له الأثر الفاصل مع قوى المقاومة في فرض مسار من الانتصارات انطلاقاً من معارك حلب وصولاً الى الغوطة والجنوب والشمال في معارك دير الزور والبوكمال. وينطلق السوريون والإيرانيون من هذا الإرث العظيم لمناقشة كيفية مواصلة الطريق حتى تستعيد سورية عافيتها السياسية والاقتصادية، بصفتها، الركن الواقف على خط الأعاصير لهذا الحلف، فهي شرفة الحلف على المتوسط وهي جبهته على حدود فلسطين المحتلة، والتعافي السياسي هو بسط الدولة لكامل سيادتها على حدودها كما كانت عام 2011، والتعافي الاقتصادي هو استعادة الثورات النفطيّة التي تمكن الدولة من تشغيل اقتصادها انطلاقاً من إعادة الحياة لقطاع الكهرباء بكامل جهوزيته.

تدرك إيران بعمق أكثر من غيرها أن أي مطالبة لسورية بالتهاون في التوصيف والموقف من الاحتلال التركي، سوف يعني ثلاث نتائج مباشرة، الأولى هي توفير الغطاء لبقاء الاحتلال الأميركي، والثانية هي مزيد من التصلب لدى الجماعات الكردية المسلحة بخلفية الاستثمار على بقاء الاحتلال الأميركي، والثالثة هي فتح الطريق لإضعاف مشروع الدولة السورية، ما يعني فتح الطريق لاستعادة الجماعات الإرهابية التي يتقاسم الأميركيون والأتراك رعايتها بعض الروح التي فقدتها، وعودتها الى التوسّع خصوصاً في المناطق الرمادية كحال صحراء تدمر؛ بينما التمسك بدعم الموقف السوري بالمطالبة بموقف سياسي تركي واضح لجهة الالتزام بالانسحاب من الأراضي السورية، فسوف يعني إشعار الأميركيين بأن عليهم المسارعة بالانسحاب قبل أن يصبح احتلالهم مكشوفا بلا غطاء مع بدء جدولة الانسحاب التركي، وسوف يعني إشعار الجماعات الكردية ان الأميركي لن يبقى في سورية وأن لا ملاذ لها إلا العودة الى الدولة السورية والتفاوض معها على حلول سياسية. وهذا سوف يعني إشعار الجماعات الإرهابية بأنها باتت بلا غطاء وأن اي تحرك طائش سوف يُسرع بنهايتها، وهذا يعني تزعزع الكانتونات الانفصالية شمال شرق وشمال غرب سورية، وتلك هي وصفة التعافي التي تريدها إيران كما تريدها روسيا لسورية.

عشية زيارة الرئيس بشار الأسد الى موسكو قيل وكتب الكثير عن فرضية مشابهة لضغوط روسية على سورية للتخلي عن شروطها، لكن الحصيلة كانت أن اللقاء الذي جمع الرئيس الأسد بالرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين لم يستهلك سوى دقائق معدودة لحسم هذا الأمر بتبني وجهة نظر الأسد، الذي أعاد تأكيدها عبر منابر الإعلام الروسي من موسكو.

– قمة رئيسي والأسد سوف تخرج سياسياً بما يعزّز موقع سورية واقتصادياً بما ينعش اقتصادها.

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Deporting Syrians: A ploy to propel Lebanon’s US-backed army chief into power?

April 28 2023

Did Lebanon’s US-backed army commander exploit the Syrian refugee crisis and incite clashes with them to catapult himself into the highly-contested Lebanese presidency? The US silence on Joseph Aoun’s illegal deportations last week is deafening.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Radwan Mortada

Since the 2011 outbreak of war in Syria, hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrians have fled to Lebanon, worsening an already catastrophic economic crisis in the small Levantine state. The situation has led to rising tensions and xenophobia toward Syrians, whose presence is seen as responsible for exacerbating the crisis.

Currently, around 4 million people, including 1.5 million Syrian refugees and 2.2 million vulnerable Lebanese, are in need of humanitarian aid. As such, there have been growing calls to repatriate the displaced, particularly among Lebanese Christians who fear a demographic change that could further reduce their shrinking population in a country they view as the “Switzerland of the Middle East.”

Last October, the Lebanese General Directorate of General Security announced that the most updated number of displaced Syrians in Lebanon had reached 2,080,000, which constitutes about 30 percent of the Lebanese population.

In March 2023, EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janiz Lenarcic stated that “Lebanon is facing multiple crises which are putting more and more people at risk. In addition, the country hosts some 1.5 million Syrian refugees, the highest number of refugees per capita in the world.”

On April 26, Lebanese Minister of Defense Maurice Sleem – like other officials in recent years – accused the international community of pressuring Lebanon to keep displaced Syrians in the country and integrating them into Lebanese society by paying them money in hard currency.

Challenges of the Syrian refugee crisis

The following day, Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar quoted Germany’s Ambassador to Beirut Andreas Kindl as saying, in a private conversation, that Christians in Lebanon must “accommodate” the fact that they have become a minority.

This politically combustive issue has been compounded by the UN’s refusal to provide Lebanon with accurate data on the number of registered Syrian refugees in the country, estimated by the UN today to be around 830,000.

Further complicating matters is a long-term US and western pressure campaign on the Lebanese government to prevent the establishment of contacts with the government of President Bashar al-Assad that could facilitate the return of displaced Syrians to safe areas back home.

Those western pressures are also in high gear inside Syria, where a US/EU-led blockade and sanctions on the country have crippled the state’s economy. Furthermore, US military occupation of the northeast – rich in Syrian oil and agricultural wealth, now siphoned off by US allies – makes it difficult for the Syrian government to provide reconstruction support for returnees or help absorb them into the local labor force without international aid programs.

The Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon is further compounded by the fact that western countries, NGOs, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) link their refugee aid to displaced Syrians remaining in Lebanon. They refuse to fund any support programs for them in their home country, which the Lebanese increasingly believe encourages refugees to stay put.

Failed repatriation attempts

In late 2022, the Lebanese General Directorate of General Security attempted to organize voluntary return trips for the displaced to Syria after obtaining guarantees for their safety from the government in Damascus.

However, these efforts failed due to western pressures, unsubstantiated warnings from international organizations that refugees would be persecuted upon return to Syria, and the unwillingness of the displaced themselves to lose foreign food aid and financial assistance.

In 2019, the Supreme Council of Defense in Lebanon – the body responsible for implementing the state’s national defense strategy – issued instructions to the security services to deport Syrians who enter Lebanon through illegal border crossings.

That year marked the start of Lebanon’s financial crisis, and the weakened government succumbed to western pressure, refraining from making any significant efforts to repatriate the displaced or communicate with Damascus to coordinate their return.

The irony is that large numbers of these ‘refugees’ visit Syria periodically without being subjected to any harassment. During the Eid al-Fitr holiday at the end of last Ramadan, 37,000 Syrians visited their country and returned to Lebanon, which according to Lebanese Labor Minister Mustafa Bayram, de facto deprives them of their refugee status.

The Lebanese army illegally deports Syrians

Matters suddenly escalated on 21 April, with reports that the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) raided the homes of Syrian families in various locations across the country and forcibly deported dozens of Syrians who had entered Lebanon irregularly or whose residency permits had expired.

According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), the heavy-handed incident, which violated the principle of non-refoulment of refugees, involved the forced repatriation of no fewer than 168 Syrian refugees since the start of April 2023:

“The overwhelming majority of forced returnees were brutally beaten and insulted during the raids on their houses and places of residence. They were denied the opportunity to take any of their personal belongings with them.”

These sudden deportations occurred amid an escalation of anti-Syrian sentiment, clashes between Lebanese and displaced persons in some areas, and an anti-refugee social media campaign linking them to increased local crime rates.

Ominously, the LAF did not coordinate the deportations with either the Lebanese or Syrian governments or with the Lebanese General Security, whose jurisdiction refugees fall under. The LAF has sought to justify its actions by claiming that overflowing Lebanese security service detention centers were no longer able to accommodate Syrian detainees.

A Lebanese military source reveals to The Cradle that the LAF began implementing its decision to deport Syrians to the border about two weeks ago, that the decision to do so was made by LAF Commander General Joseph Aoun himself, and that Lebanese army intelligence handed over the refugees to the Land Border Regiment which transported them across the border.

General Joseph Aoun: Presidential motives?

In Lebanon, the timing of the army’s decision to deport Syrian refugees has drawn attention to the possible political motives behind this move. LAF Commander Joseph Aoun is a close friend of Washington’s – having last year received $100 million from the US directly (bypassing the Lebanese government) – and is viewed as a potential candidate to fill the vacant seat of the hotly-contested Lebanese presidency, whose incumbent’s term ended in October.

Yet the army’s decision to deport refugees openly contravenes US policy to keep the displaced in Lebanon.

Aoun’s ‘violation’ of the US policy against repatriation of Syrian refugees – without fear of an American or western reaction to his “forced deportations” – adds a further layer of confusion about the army’s move. This ambiguity increased after the re-circulation of a video by Syrian dissident Kamal al-Labwani – who enjoys close ties to the US and Israel – in which he insults the Lebanese army and calls on Syrian refugees to take up arms.

At the same time, dozens of videos showing Lebanese violence against Syrians and news about Syrian crimes in Lebanon began spreading like wildfire across social media platforms – many of these were later discovered to be either fabricated or very old.

The deportation decision also coincides with the sudden rising domestic and international consensus around a presidency led by former MP Suleiman Franjieh, who is supported by Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah.

Washington’s man in Beirut

A senior Lebanese intelligence source tells The Cradle that there is concern that the deportation was a stunt to rally the Lebanese – at the eleventh hour – around the candidacy of Joseph Aoun, who will be portrayed as a “savior” for ejecting refugees.

Just as the Turkish opposition this week chased a “bump” in polls by vowing to repatriate Syrian refugees in the run-up to Turkiye’s critical May elections, the intel source fears that Lebanon’s army commander is employing similar tactics – despite the dangers these actions pose to Lebanon’s fragile political and security space.

Fears of a “presidential conspiracy” are also spreading on social media, including a tweet on 26 April from the head of the Free Patriotic Movement Gebran Bassil, the most prominent national opponent of Joseph Aoun’s accession to the presidency:

“The random Syrian exodus was a conspiracy that we faced alone, and expelling them by violence is a conspiracy that we will face. We support a safe and dignified return and the implementation of international and Lebanese law by the return of every illegally displaced person and the prevention of any resettlement.”

Bassil warned that “the regional opportunity is open for the return of the displaced, and we will not allow the conspirators and those who finally woke up to waste it through incitement and inhumanity.”

Confidence in this scenario has also risen because of reports from US Embassy in Beirut contacts that the LAF commander remains Washington’s first choice for the presidency.

Did Washington merely choose to ignore the LAF’s deportation of refugees, after having invested many years and millions of dollars trying to prevent the return of Syrians back home?  Or did the Americans collude with the Lebanese army commander to swing him into the presidential seat at an opportune moment?

Today, the LAF and state security forces announced the capture of several “cells” of armed Syrians in Lebanon. After 12 years of the Syrian war, and at least five years after the conflict’s military phase declined, did Syrians in Lebanon suddenly decide to pick up weapons against this state? Or is this further US-style “momentum” to build a narrative that launches Joseph Aoun into Lebanon’s most coveted political position?

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

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Syrian FM makes landmark visit to Saudi Arabia

April 12 2023

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad and his counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud
(Photo Credit: Saudi Press Agency)

The end of Syria’s regional isolation nears more than ten years after Washington’s war on the country

ByNews Desk

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, 12 April, in a major signal that Syria’s decade-long regional isolation is nearing an end, Reuters reported.

Mekdad and his delegation landed in the city of Jeddah on the Red Sea following an invitation from his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, to discuss bilateral relations and issues of mutual interest, according to Syrian state media SANA.

Mekdad’s visit is the first by a senior Syrian diplomat to Saudi Arabia since the start of the US-backed war on Syria that began in 2011. Saudi Arabia played a key role in the covert war at the behest of Washington, which spent billions as part of the CIA’s Operation Timber Sycamore to topple the Syrian government.

Riyadh has recently distanced itself from Washington, however, and reached an agreement with Damascus to re-establish ties and reopen their embassies.

“(The two ministers) will hold a session of talks on efforts to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis that preserves the unity, security, and stability of Syria,” a Saudi Foreign Ministry statement said.

Facilitating the return of Syrian refugees and humanitarian access will also be discussed by Mekdad and bin Farhan.

Mekdad’s visit came two days before Saudi Arabia hosts another meeting of regional foreign ministers that will discuss Syria’s return to the Arab League.

Foreign ministers from Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait will meet Friday in Jeddah as well.

Saudi Arabia has also invited Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the Arab League summit in Riyadh scheduled for 19 May.

Syria and Tunisia also agreed to reopen their respective embassies, the two countries said on Wednesday.

The Arab world’s effort to restore relations with Syria follows the landmark deal brokered by China between historic rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia. The deal ends a seven-year rift and restores diplomatic ties – in a powerful display of Beijing’s growing influence in West Asia.


Faisal MekdadPrince Faisal bin Farhan Al SaudSaudi-Syria relationsUS war on Syria

Syria FM Makes Official Visit to Saudi Arabia

April 12, 2023

Saudi FM Faisal bin Farhan hosting Syrian counterpart Faisal Mikdad

At the invitation of Prince Faisal bin Farhan Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, Foreign and Expatriates Minister, Dr. Faisal Mikdad and the accompanying delegation have arrived to the city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia on a working visit to discuss bilateral relations and issues of mutual interest.

Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Walid Al-Khuraiji and a number of diplomats received Minister Mikdad and the accompanying delegation upon their arrival  at Jeddah Airport.

Gulf Cooperation Council is set to mull on Friday Syria’s return to Arab League: Saudi media announced Tuesday.

Mikdad is also set to visit Tunisia on Monday to overlook the reopening of the Syrian embassy and bolster ties with the North African Arab state.

Source: Al-Manar Website and SANA

Saudi Arabia | Al-Miqdad arrives in Jeddah on a working visit at the invitation of his Saudi counterpart, Bin Farhan
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Saudi Arabia | Al-Miqdad arrives in Jeddah on a working visit at the invitation of his Saudi counterpart, Bin Farhan
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سوريا في قلب المشهد العربي… بشروطها!

الخميس 13 نيسان 2023

يأتي الانتقال العربي عموماً من حالة القطيعة مع سوريا إلى الانفتاح التدريجي (أ ف ب)

ابراهيم الأمين  

منتصف العام 2011، وصل موفد لزعيم عربي بارز إلى دمشق حاملاً رسالة إلى الرئيس بشار الأسد. كان فحواها يتركز على الوضع الداخلي إثر اندلاع موجة الاحتجاجات وانتقال المعارضين إلى حمل السلاح في وجه الدولة السورية. وطالبت الرسالة الأسد بإحداث تغيير سياسي في الحكم مقابل منع تمدد الموجات الاحتجاجية ووقف الدعم الخارجي لها. قرأ الأسد الرسالة، وأعادها إلى الموفد وقال له: سلم على من أرسلك، ولا جواب!

لم يكن الأسد في ذلك الوقت يتوقع أن يكون التآمر على سوريا بهذا الحجم، وعلى مدى ست سنوات، كانت المواجهة قاسية جداً، وجاء الدعم للأسد من حلفائه في لبنان والعراق وإيران، ما منع سقوط الدولة السورية، قبل أن يأتي الدعم الروسي ليفتح الباب أمام استعادة المناطق التي سيطر عليها المسلحون. وخلال تلك الفترة، كانت المفاوضات التي تقودها الأمم المتحدة، عبارة عن مضيعة للوقت، ولم تفد بشيء على الإطلاق، بل ربما كان لها دورها في تسعير الحرب في سوريا. مضت السنوات، وتصرف الجميع على أن مشروع إسقاط الدولة السورية ونظامها هو الذي سقط. والحصار الذي تعزز بعدما توقف إطلاق النار في مناطق واسعة من سوريا، ترافق مع تعزيز الاحتلال الأجنبي المباشر عقب فشل الوكلاء المحليين في إدارة الأمور. وهذا ما جعل الاحتلال الأميركي يثبت قواعد ويعزز واقع المجموعات الكردية الانفصالية، فيما اجتاح الأتراك مناطق الشمال الغربي من سوريا.

خلال السنوات القليلة الماضية، انطلقت موجة من الاتصالات بين عواصم عربية وإقليمية وغربية مع سوريا، مباشرة أو من خلال وسطاء، وتفعلت هذه الاتصالات بعد الزلزال المدمر الذي ضرب سوريا وتركيا. وهو أمر يؤكده مرجع كبير في دمشق بقوله: «يتواصلون معنا سراً، لكنهم يخافون الغضب الأميركي، نحن لا نحمّل أحداً أكثر مما يحتمل، لكن أحداً لا يمكن أن يفرض علينا شروطاً. ما واجهناه خلال عقد كامل، لا يقدر كل هؤلاء على تحمله، وقد صمدنا، ودورنا العربي نحن من صنعناه».
وسبق للرئيس السوري بشار الأسد أن صارح قادة عرباً وموفدين ووسطاء، في الفترة الأخيرة، بأن «سوريا لا تخوض معركة العودة إلى الجامعة العربية. وسوريا لا ترفض دعوتها إلى أي قمة أو اجتماع عربي، لكنها غير مستعدة لمقايضة هذا الأمر بأي شيء يمس ثوابتها». ونقل عن الرئيس السوري قوله «إن دمشق هي من يملك حق أن يسامح دولاً وجماعات كانت طرفاً كبيراً في الحرب وشريكة في سفك الدماء العربية. وسيكون من الخطأ أن يفكر أحد بأن سوريا مستعدة للحديث مع أي دولة حول وضعها الداخلي، وهي لا تقبل بأي وساطة بينها وبين أي سوري يريد العودة إلى بلده وفق شروطه. لا مجال لأي تفاوض حول المسألة السورية الداخلية».
خلال الشهرين الماضيين، دارت محركات الوسطاء بقوة كبيرة. حاولت دولة الإمارات العربية لعب دور خاص. لكنها كانت محكومة بالسقف الأميركي من جهة والسقف السعودي من جهة أخرى، بينما تولت سلطنة عمان التوسط بين دمشق ودول كبيرة، منها السعودية وحتى الولايات المتحدة. فيما كانت روسيا وإيران تديران وساطة مع تركيا. حتى العواصم العربية الفاعلة تحركت ولو من دون خطوات كبيرة. مثل مصر التي تريد تنسيق خطواتها مع السعودية، أو الجزائر التي لا تملك النفوذ الذي كان لها في وقت سابق.

وكشف مطلعون على جانب من هذه الاتصالات أن مسقط استضافت لقاءات هامة بين مسؤولين من سوريا ومن السعودية ومن الأميركيين أيضاً. وأن الاتصالات السعودية – السورية سرعان ما انتقلت إلى حيز التحاور المباشر الذي تمثل في لقاءات عقدت على مستوى أمني في الرياض، ومهدت لرفع مستوى التواصل إلى الحيز السياسي الذي سيترجم في زيارة وزير الخارجية السورية فيصل المقداد إلى جدة. فيما جرى الحديث عن زيارات أمنية سرية قام بها موفدون من دول خارجية إلى سوريا عبر لبنان، وتناولت المحادثات فيها مسائل كثيرة.

وبحسب المطلعين أنفسهم، فإن هذه الأطراف تعي أن رحلة عزل سوريا انتهت إلى فشل كبير. وبات هؤلاء في موقع من يريد تدفيع سوريا ثمناً لعودة التواصل، وكان هؤلاء يعتقدون بأن سوريا مستعجلة لأمرين: الأول، استئناف العلاقة الرسمية مع تركيا، والثاني عودة سوريا إلى مقعدها في الجامعة العربية. وقد صدم الأتراك بموقف الأسد الذي أبلغه إلى الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين، بأنه لا يمانع الاجتماع مع الرئيس رجب طيب أردوغان، لكن على تركيا القيام بخطوات قبل ذلك، تشمل إعلان جدول زمني لسحب قواتها من سوريا، والمبادرة إلى خطوات على الأرض تعكس هذه الجدية. وهو الأمر الذي لا يزال يؤخر المحادثات المباشرة بين سوريا وتركيا من أو مع مشاركة وسطاء. أما مع العرب، فإن الأسد قال لكل من التقاهم من المسؤولين العرب، بأنه ليس مستعجلاً للعودة إلى الجامعة العربية، وهو أصلاً لا يثق بقدرتها على القيام بشيء. لكنه مستعد لتنظيم العلاقات الثنائية مع الدول العربية من دون أي شرط.
صحيح أن القطريين يطلقون مواقف حادة ضد عودة سوريا. لكن ما لا يقال في العلن، أكده مرجع كبير لـ«الأخبار»، وهو أن القطريين توسطوا لدى الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله للبحث في تنظيم العلاقة مع القيادة السورية من جديد. إلا أن الأسد لم يكن متحمساً لهذا الأمر.

توسط القطريون لدى حزب الله لإعادة الاتصال بالأسد وقاد العمانيون اتصالات مع دول عربية وغربية أيضاً

أما السعودية فقد حاولت مقايضة سوريا في ملفات كثيرة تتعلق بالواقع العربي والعلاقات مع دول الإقليم. فبحث السعوديون كما سبق لآخرين أن فعلوا، أن يعرضوا على الأسد التخلي عن تحالفه مع إيران وقوى محور المقاومة مقابل انفتاح سياسي واقتصادي كبير على سوريا، إضافة إلى إثارة عناوين تتعلق بالإصلاحات السياسية الداخلية في سوريا، وصولاً إلى محاولة انتزاع مواقف سورية مطابقة لموقف الجامعة العربية من الحرب القائمة في اليمن، بما في ذلك محاولة إقناع الأسد بطرد السفير اليمني الحالي في دمشق وتسليم السفارة إلى ممثلي حكومة عدن التابعة لتحالف العدوان العربي – الأميركي على اليمن. لكن الأسد رفض هذا الأمر أيضاً. وحتى في ملف فلسطين، فقد راهن البعض على أن موقف الأسد السلبي من حركة الإخوان المسلمين ومن حركة حماس قد يساعدهم على موقف من المقاومة في فلسطين، لكن الأسد الذي لم يكن سهلاً عليه إعادة العلاقة مع حماس، كان قد حسم الأمر من خلال القول بأن موقفه من الحركة أو أي فصيل فلسطيني آخر، يرتبط بموقع هذا الفصيل في محور المقاومة ضد الاحتلال، ولذلك لم يأخذ ملف استئناف العلاقة مع حماس وقتاً طويلاً، بينما بقي موقفه من القضايا الأخرى على حاله.

ما حصل أخيراً، هو أن السعودية التي أدارت استراتيجية جديدة تستهدف «صفر مشاكل»، سارعت إلى عقد اتفاق مع إيران، يتيح لها الإسراع في وقف الحرب على اليمن، ويسهل على الرياض استئناف العلاقات مع سوريا بصورة مباشرة وعلى مستويات عالية، وصولاً إلى التوافق السعودي – المصري على ضرورة عودة سوريا إلى الجامعة العربية، وهو ما يريد ولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان تحقيقه، بعد أن يحصل على غطاء ولو شكلي من الدول الحليفة له في مجلس التعاون الخليجي، ودول أخرى مثل مصر والأردن والعراق، حيث لا يزال موقف قطر هو الوحيد الرافض بينما يجري الحديث عن تردد كويتي يمكن لبن سلمان معالجته.

غداً، سنسمع الكثير من التحليلات والتقديرات والمقاربات حول أبعاد الخطوة، وستنطلق ماكينة خصوم سوريا في لعبة إعلامية مكررة ومملة تتحدث عن التنازلات والمقايضات، لكن يكفي متابعة الوقائع على الأرض، ومسار الأمور في سوريا ومن حولها، حتى يدرك الجميع، أن ما يجري إنما هو محاولة عربية للعودة إلى سوريا وليس العكس.

من ملف : العرب إلى سوريا بشروطها

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قبل اجتماع خليجي ـــ عربي حول سوريا…. المقداد يصل إلى السعودية

الأربعاء 12 نيسان 2023



واستقبل المقداد في مطار جدة نائب وزير الخارجية السعودي وليد الخريجي. ووفق وكالة «سانا» السورية، فإن الزيارة تأتي «بناءً على دعوة من الأمير فيصل بن فرحان وزير الخارجية في المملكة العربية السعودية، لإجراء مباحثات حول العلاقات الثنائية بين البلدين الشقيقين والقضايا ذات الاهتمام المشترك».

أمّا وكالة «واس» السعودية، فأعلنت أن دعوة المقداد إلى المملكة تهدف إلى التباحث في «الجهود المبذولة للوصول إلى حلٍ سياسي للأزمة السورية يحافظ على وحدة سوريا وأمنها واستقرارها، وتسهيل عودة اللاجئين السوريين إلى وطنهم، وتأمين وصول المساعدات الإنسانية إلى المناطق المتضررة في سوريا».

وكان المتحدث باسم وزارة الخارجية القطرية، ماجد الأنصاري، قد كشف عن لقاء سيجمع وزراء خارجية العراق والأردن ومصر ودول «مجلس التعاون الخليجي» في مدينة جدة السعودية يوم الجمعة المقبل، لـ«التباحث في الوضع في سوريا، وهناك تطورات كثيرة في ما يتعلق بالوضع في سوريا ووجهات النظر العربية تجاه عودة سوريا إلى جامعة الدول العربية».

ويأتي الاجتماع قبل القمة العربية التي ستنعقد في السعودية الشهر المقبل، وما يتردّد عن نيّةٍ سعودية لدعوة الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد، علماً أن عضوية سوريا في «الجامعة العربية» مُعلّقة منذ عام 2012.

وفي وقت سابق، بدأت السعودية وسوريا مباحثات تتعلّق باستئناف الخدمات القنصلية، وفق ما أفاد مسؤول في وزارة الخارجية السعودية.

وكان الأسد قد زار خلال الشهرين الفائتين سلطنة عُمان والإمارات، مع الإشارة إلى أنهما أول زيارتين إلى بلدين عربيين، منذ اندلاع الحرب في سوريا.

وصل إلى السعودية اليوم وزير الخارجية السوري فيصل المقداد في زيارة رسمية، تسبق الاجتماع الخليجي الذي سيعقد في المملكة بعد غدٍ الجمعة، لبحث عودة سوريا إلى «جامعة الدول العربية».

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