The recent developments surrounding the Assad regime’s approach to the “step for step” initiative have cast a shadow over the fate of the Arab Committee meetings, with media reports suggesting their “suspension.”
The committee convened its inaugural meeting in Cairo on August 15th of the previous year, but since then, there have been no positive signals from President Assad concerning the three key issues that underpin Arab overtures.
Just a week ago, Asharq al-Awsat disclosed that the Arab ministerial committee, formed following Syria’s readmission to the Arab League, had opted to halt its engagements with the Syrian regime. This decision was prompted by the regime’s failure to respond to the road map designed to normalize Arab-Syrian relations.
According to Arab diplomatic sources cited by the newspaper, the Assad regime failed to present any substantial proposals pertaining to the three critical subjects at the core of the recent Arab opening. These subjects encompass the repatriation of refugees, the advancement of a political resolution, and the implementation of tangible measures to curtail the trafficking of narcotics, specifically Captagon pills.
The diplomatic sources clarified that the Syrian regime fell short in providing the necessary security and political framework to halt the illicit export of contraband, particularly Captagon, to neighbouring nations. Furthermore, the regime refrained from meeting the prerequisites essential for a gradual transition in Damascus toward initiating a political resolution to terminate the ongoing conflict in Syria.
These same sources highlighted the regime’s consistent effort to shift the blame for the non-repatriation of displaced individuals onto the international community, using the pretext of a lack of response to its appeals for assistance in Syria’s reconstruction efforts.
Is it really suspended?
There has been no official confirmation regarding the status of the “suspension of meetings of the Arab Committee.”
Over the past three months, Arab officials have been notably reticent when it comes to commenting on their interactions with the Assad regime, a marked departure from their earlier engagement.
In a separate development, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported that the meetings of the Arab Liaison Committee on Syria have come to a halt, purportedly due to pressure from the United States, following reports of unsatisfactory outcomes from recent meetings.
According to the agency’s report, the economic measures imposed by the United States on the Syrian regime have impeded its reintegration into the Arab sphere. This, in turn, has led to the suspension of diplomatic contacts between the League of Arab States’ Special Committee and Damascus.
The agency cited a source stating that plans for providing financial support to Syria and facilitating its post-war reconstruction have encountered substantial obstacles as a result of US sanctions. Notably, the Caesar Act, which was enacted in 2020, and the anticipated “Anti-Normalization Act against the Assad Regime” bill, submitted to the US Congress in May, have played pivotal roles in generating frustration.
The source elucidated that the root causes of this frustration encompass a complex web of technical, diplomatic, and political challenges stemming from the US Caesar Act and other sanctions levied against Syria.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.