Algeria hints at Syrian regime return to Arab League
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune suggested on Saturday that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could return to the Arab League during the organization's next summit, which will take place in Algeria in March.
"Syria is supposed to be present,” Tebboune told the Algerian state television in an interview. "We want [the meeting] to be inclusive and a launchpad for the reunification of the fractured Arab world."
President Tebboune's comments have fed speculations that Syria, represented by the Assad regime, will regain full membership in the organization at the next summit.
The Syrian regime has not attended any Arab League summit since November 2011, when other Arab states decided to suspend it from the League at an emergency meeting held in Cairo.
The decision was meant to sanction the Syrian regime for its brutal repression of the Syrian revolution. In 2013, an opposition delegation took Syria's seat at the Arab League summit in Qatar.
Algeria was among a few countries that opposed the regime's suspension in 2011 at the time, along with Lebanon and Yemen.
But after ten years of conflict, with the regime now in control of most of the territory once held by opposition forces, many Arab countries see its isolation as counterproductive to their economic interests.
Fearing Iran's growing influence in the region, some have recently signaled their willingness to normalise diplomatic ties with the Assad regime, including the UAE - which reportedly pressured other Arab states to follow suit.
The Emirati foreign minister visited Damascus earlier this November, the highest-level visit of a Gulf state envoy to Syria since 2011.
Egypt also pledged to help return Syria return to the Arab League, in the wake of a meeting between Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad in New York at the end of September.
Syria's return to the league is of personal interest to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi as he seeks to end the effects of the pro-democracy Arab Spring movements which rocked both countries in 2011.
Jordan also renewed ties with Syria earlier this year, as evidenced by a phone call between King Abdullah of Jordan and President Assad in early October.
In September, the border between the two countries reopened to allow for the resumption of normal trade activities, and Jordan has since hosted several high-level visits from Syrian officials.