Arab nations agreed on Sunday to allow Syria to rejoin the Arab League, taking a crucial step toward ending the country’s international ostracism more than a decade after it was suspended from the group over its use of ruthless force against its own people.
When Syria’s neighbors and peers ejected it from the 22-member league in November 2011, months after its Arab Spring uprising began, the move was seen as a key condemnation of a government that had bombed, gassed and tortured protesters and others in a conflict that metastasized into a long civil war.
Now, the region is normalizing relations, increasingly convinced that Arab countries are gaining little from isolating Syria, as the United States has urged them to. Refusing to deal with Syria means ignoring the reality that its government has all but won the war, proponents of engagement argue.
That leaves Syria poised for a triumphant return this month in Saudi Arabia at the Arab League’s next summit — perhaps represented by President Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian leader accused of committing war crimes against his own people over the past decade. Syria’s rehabilitation could unlock billions of dollars in reconstruction projects and other investments for its tottering economy, further propping up Mr. al-Assad. [Continue reading…]