Jordan Hosts Arab Normalization Talks With Syria

    Jordan Hosts Arab Normalization Talks With Syria
    Last updated May 01, 2023
    Image credit: Reuters


    • Jordan hosted a landmark meeting between Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia in Amman on Monday as the Arab countries consider normalizing ties with Damascus, which has been diplomatically isolated by the Arab world since 2011 following anti-government protests and the onset of civil war.[1]
    • Joint talks between top diplomats from the five nations began after an initial meeting between Jordan's Foreign Minister and his Syrian counterpart. Besides discussing Syria's potential return to the Arab fold, including the possibility of Syria being invited to the Arab League summit later this month, a "political solution" to Syria's conflict was also reportedly discussed.[2]
    • Jordan has called on Damascus to engage with Arab states jointly on a step-by-step basis to end the country's long-running civil war, addressing the return of refugees, drug smuggling, detainees in Syrian prisons, and Iran-backed militias that operate within the country.[1]
    • Though the track toward Arab normalization with Syria has moved steadily in recent years, drug trafficking is a massive outstanding issue. Saudi Arabia and other regional states accuse the Syrian government and security forces of running a massive illicit drug empire in the region; Damascus denies this accusation.[3]
    • The most vocal opponent against normalization with Syria has been Qatar, which has stated that the reasons for Syria's isolation haven't been resolved, with Qatari PM Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani saying recently that “the war has stopped but Syrian people are still displaced. There are innocent people in prisons — there are many things."[4]
    • The talks come as a number of major developments have occurred in the Middle East, including the February earthquake that struck Syria and Turkey and the Chinese-brokered announcement in March that Iran and Saudi Arabia, who've backed opposing sides in conflicts across the region, including Syria, would work towards resuming ties.[5]


    Pro-establishment narrative

    It's no surprise that Arab dictatorships, which are some of the most brutal authoritarian regimes in the world, are rushing to rehabilitate Bashar al-Assad's dictatorship in Syria. Though Assad butchered his own people with barrel bombs and chemical weapons, now that supporting the opposition to his rule is not politically expedient, the Gulf monarchies are more than happy to bring him back to the Arab fold.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    Imperialist forces in the region, namely the US, are trying to sabotage Syria's return to the Arab fold, but the path to normalization seems quite certain at this point. Though the West, alongside its regional cronies in the Gulf, has waged war against Syria and Assad's government, it's time to move past this and look to the future in a multipolar world order that's not dictated by the whims of the West.

    Cynical narrative

    It's obvious that Assad is a criminal and a butcher, but the West's strategies have borne no fruit in terms of ending the conflict. Ultimately, after 12 years of war, Assad, alongside Russian and Iranian support, has essentially defeated the opposition, and it's time to allow for his regime to re-enter the Arab fold, regardless of how the US feels about it. Syria, though a brotherly nation, will likely be held at arm's length for the foreseeable future nonetheless.

    Establishment split



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