The decision of the Arab foreign ministers to readmit Syria to the Arab League on 7 May 2023 marked a turning point in the standoff between Damascus and much of the Arab world.
The last time an Arab country was booted from the Arab League was in 1979, when the Arab summit that took place in Baghdad between 27-31 March took the decision to sever political and diplomatic relations with Egypt following its formal peace treaty with Israel.
#OTD in 1979, a White House ceremony marked the signing of an Egypt-Israel peace treaty brokered by U.S. President Jimmy Carter. The framework deal, known as the Camp David Accords and arranged in September 1978, endures today. pic.twitter.com/TO31DoWDgq— The Carter Center (@CarterCenter) March 26, 2020
The headquarters of the league was subsequently relocated from Cairo to Tunis. Egypt later resumed its membership 10 years later on 26 May 1989.
However, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 did not produce a unanimous position from Arab League states.
The Arab Summit held on 2 August 1990 saw a divide among states, with Jordan and Yemen declaring support for Iraq, while Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Egypt, Syria, and Morocco backed Kuwait.
On their part, Algeria, Tunisia and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Mauritania, Sudan, and Libya were more muted in their position, expressing ‘concern’ over the invasion.
The decision of the Arab foreign ministers to readmit Syria to the Arab League comes after a flurry of meetings and measures that involved Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Jordan, Algeria, and Tunisia.
This time, the Arab League adopted a flexible experimental approach, offering President Bashar al-Assad the option of normalisation instead of sanctions in an attempt to change his regional behaviour.