Talk of Syria returning to the Arab League is speculation as the reasons for its expulsion still exist, the prime minister of Qatar said Thursday. Qatar has been an outspoken critic of Bashar Al-Assad's government, which will be at the center of talks between nine Arab countries in Saudi Arabia on Friday.
Diplomats say Syria's return to the Arab League and its potential presence at an expected summit in May will be discussed. However, Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, who will be at the talks, said nothing has been proposed.
"It is all speculation about Syria [returning] in the Arab League, and the decision is up to the Syrian people," Al-Thani said in a televised interview.
"Qatar's position is clear that there were reasons to suspend Syria's membership, and these reasons still exist," he added in comments that were welcomed by the Syrian opposition.
Syria was suspended from the Arab League in 2011. Qatar has supported Syrian opposition groups.
Reports say some countries support Syria's return, and its Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad arrived in Jeddah on Wednesday, the first such visit since the war began.
After eight years of hostility and devastation, in what has widely been described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, momentum is building for a permanent ceasefire.
For the Houthis - the rebel group that seized the capital in 2014 and forced the internationally recognised government to flee to Saudi Arabia - an agreement could set the path to permanent recognition and further territorial gains.
In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition, which included the United Arab Emirates, intervened on behalf of the Yemeni government to push back the Iran-aligned Houthis after they took control of Sanaa.
Coalition air strikes killed thousands of civilians, according to UN reports, while the Houthis launched missiles and drones at civilian infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
A six-month truce brokered by the UN that ended in October is still mostly holding, giving long-awaited respite to Yemenis.
The Saudi visit to Yemen comes just weeks after a broader reconciliation between Riyadh and Iran, brokered by China.
On Saturday, Saudi officials arrived in Iran to discuss procedures for reopening Riyadh's embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad as a result of the deal.
Lula’s call to shed dollar dependence dovetailed with Beijing’s increasing efforts to promote use of the renminbi in settlement of cross-border commodities trades, as Chinese policymakers seek to strengthen the role of the world’s second-largest economy in the global financial system.
Brazil’s leftist leader has sought to redirect the country’s foreign policy to a more multilateralist stance, with an emphasis not only on good relations with the US — he visited President Joe Biden in February — but also with China and the developing world.
Bilateral trade has ballooned over the past decade to $150.4bn last year, with China buying Brazil’s agricultural commodities and minerals and investing in the Latin American country’s large consumer market and infrastructure sector.
The growing economic relationship has encouraged both countries to promote greater use of their respective currencies in bilateral trade. This week, the Brazilian branch of the state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China settled its first transaction directly in renminbi in the country, Chinese state media reported.
China News: Socrates & Confucius
The Global Civilization Initiative
By Xu Liuliu, Li Qian and Hu Yuwei,
Global Times [China], Apr 17, 2023
Chinese President Xi Jinping highly values cultures and has profound understanding of culture which strengthens over time. To him, culture plays a unique and irreplaceable role in the rejuvenation of China and the building of a global community of shared future.
After putting forward the Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative to address the common challenges faced by the whole world throughout human history, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward a third, equally overarching proposal - the Global Civilization Initiative.
Reading through the specifics of this initiative and the abundant connotations it holds, experts agree that it not only embodies the common value of all mankind on civilization, but also reflects the essence of traditional Chinese culture as derived from ancient Chinese wisdom.
Xi proposed the Global Civilization Initiative while delivering a keynote speech at the Communist Party of China (CPC) in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-level Meeting on March 15.
It advocates for the respect of the diversity of civilizations and the principles of equality, mutual learning, dialogue, and inclusivity, stresses humanity's common values like peace, development, equality, democracy, and freedom, calls for the inheritance and innovation of traditional cultures, and promotes the strengthening of international people-to-people exchanges that foster mutual understanding.
Dialogue among civilizations
For Stelios Virvidakis in Athens, welcoming new scholars to the newly established Center of Greek and Chinese Ancient Civilizations is to become the new normal in the coming months.
The center's founding was facilitated by President Xi. Widely seen as an embodiment of the Global Civilization Initiative, the center is of great historical and contemporary significance as the two countries are committed to promoting exchanges and mutual learning as well as the promotion of the development of various civilizations.
The project's run is expected to be a smooth one as they "are expecting a French scholar to talk about the history of ancient Chinese mathematics, an Israeli professor to make a presentation on traditional Chinese medicine, and two Chinese professors to visit Athens soon," Virvidakis told the Global Times.
Such robust exchanges exemplify the essence of the two sculptures, Confucius and Socrates, erected at the Ancient Agora of Athens as they seem to be engaged in a dialogue.
Dialogue should take place between great peoples and thinkers, and among various civilizations. The stable development of human society "relies on diversity, just like the natural world," Wang Xuebin, a professor at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee (National Academy of Governance), told the Global Times.
"We must protect the diversity of civilizations, and only in diversity can we have real forms of dialogue."
"Civilization should not be divided into high or low, and civilization should not have a so-called universal model. Otherwise, if it is monopolized by the so-called unified way, then it is impossible for human beings to develop for a long time and many tragedies and disasters will soon follow," Wang said.
Chinese civilization represented by Confucianism has not only nurtured us for thousands of years, but has also influenced the world.
Be it East Asia, Southeast Asia, or Europe, the influence of Chinese culture has been visible at some stage, which helps the world understand our initiatives and build bridges between people from different backgrounds.
Confucianism has been passed down over thousands of years and has continued to be open to exchanges and mutual learning. It is always self-enriching and able to effect creative transcendence and transformation, whether through the integration of the ancient and the modern, or through the combination of what is authentically Chinese and what is markedly Western in the history, explained Wang.
Brazil’s Lula meets Lavrov
amid US barbs on Ukraine stance
Al Jazeera, 17 Apr 2023
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, whose stance on Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has fuelled consternation in the United States and elsewhere, has met visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
Lavrov arrived in the capital Brasilia on Monday, where he discussed issues such as trade and Russia’s war in Ukraine with members of Lula’s administration.
“We are grateful to our Brazilian friends for their clear understanding of the genesis of the situation [in Ukraine]. We are grateful for their desire to contribute to finding ways of settling this situation,” Lavrov told reporters after a meeting with Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira.
Seeking to capitalise on Brazil’s tradition of non-intervention and open diplomacy, Lula has pitched himself as a broker for peace talks to end the Ukraine conflict, which began when Russia invaded its neighbour in February 2022.
But he has upset Washington and others stating that several parties are at fault for the war in Ukraine and that the US has “encouraged” the war by sending weapons to the administration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, echoing the positions taken by Moscow and Beijing.
Last week, Lula travelled to China to meet with President Xi Jinping in a bid to bolster economic relations. China has likewise offered support to Russia during its war in Ukraine.
In remarks to journalists as he returned from his trip, Lula said Brazil was “trying to build a group of countries without any involvement in the war, that don’t want the war and defend world peace to have a discussion with both Russia and Ukraine”.
China and globalisation
Amr Helmy, Ahram online [Egypt], 16 Apr 2023
With the advent of the age of great-power competition in which the US is determined to secure its position at the helm of a unipolar world order and eliminate rivals threatening its status as the world’s sole superpower, US political elites have become increasingly aware of the fact that the volume of Western investments in China and the access that Chinese students and researchers have had to the best sources of knowledge and know-how in US and European universities and research centres have been instrumental in China’s rise to its position today as one of the world’s most important economic and technological powers.
China has surpassed the US, Germany, and Japan as the world’s largest exporter, with exports totalling around $3.6 trillion in 2022, compared with the US at $2.6 trillion, Germany at $1.5 trillion and Japan at $910 billion.
A significant portion of China’s success comes from the exports of Western manufacturing companies based in China, with these having helped China to become the world’s largest producer of steel, cement, mobile phones, and container ships. China produces two-thirds of the world’s production of photocopiers, microwave ovens, and compact discs. It is a world leader in electronics, from TVs to computers, in clean and renewable energy, and in the automotive industry, including in spare parts and conventional and electric vehicles.
Products like these together with household supplies, furniture, textiles, ready-made clothes, DIY tools and equipment, satellite dishes and innumerable other products have enabled China to increase its exports to the US by 1,700 per cent over the past 15 years. As a result, the US trade deficit with China reached $382 billion in 2022, the largest with any other country.
The EU countries combined have a $164 billion trade deficit with China. Beijing possesses the largest foreign exchange reserves in the world, estimated at $3.46 trillion in 2022, compared to Japan’s $1.2 trillion and the EU’s $310 billion.
China’s defence industries are also booming in tandem with its steadily increasing military expenditure, which rose to $224.7 billion in the country’s 2023 budget. China has the world’s largest standing army, sophisticated defence systems and a large nuclear arsenal, inclusive of delivery systems.
A tectonic shift in the balance of power
The world is on the verge of a tectonic shift in the balance of power as a result of a set of interrelated factors, not the least of which are China’s growing international influence, the repercussions of the war in Ukraine, and the clash between the West and Russia that is currently centred around Ukraine.
Developments in these areas may lead to a reduction in the intensity of the current unipolarism and a gradual erosion of the Western monopoly on power, wealth, and influence that has prevailed since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the end of the Cold War.
China has already begun to challenge US leadership as it strives to outperform the Western democracies using a different model of political and economic governance.
The Western democracies have exerted enormous efforts to redraw the political map of the Middle East for years, while ignoring what was happening in East Asia. Now they have woken up to a reality that they have no alternative but to accept.
They can neither force China back to where it stood in the early 1980s, and nor can they provoke the Chinese leadership into a reckless slide into military confrontation.
Beijing has taken off, and it is taking Moscow with it. It will not let Russia suffer the defeat that the West has planned for it in Ukraine.
The West should deal with such realities wisely and not exaggerate its ability to change them.
The Need for a New US Foreign Policy
By Jeffrey D. Sachs, New World Economy, 18-4-2023
U.S. foreign policy is based on an inherent contradiction and fatal flaw.
The aim of U.S. foreign policy is a U.S.-dominated world, in which the U.S. writes the global trade and financial rules, controls advanced technologies, maintains militarily supremacy and dominates all potential competitors. Unless U.S. foreign policy is changed to recognize the need for a multipolar world, it will lead to more wars, and possibly World War III.
The inherent contradiction in U.S. foreign policy is that it conflicts with the U.N. Charter, which commits the U.S. (and all other U.N. member states) to a global system based on U.N. institutions in which no single country dominates.
The fatal flaw is that the U.S. has just 4 percent of the world population, and lacks the economic, financial, military and technological capacities, much less the ethical and legal claims, to dominate the other 96 percent.
At the end of World War II, the U.S. was far ahead of the rest of the world in economic, technological and military power. This is no longer the case, as many countries have built their economies and technological capacities.
French President Emmanuel Macron recently spoke the truth when he said that the European Union, though an ally of the U.S., does not want to be a vassal of the U.S. He was widely attacked in the U.S. and Europe for uttering this statement because many mediocre politicians in Europe depend on U.S. political support to stay in power.
In 2015, U.S. Ambassador Robert Blackwill, an important U.S. foreign policy strategist, described U.S. grand strategy with exceptional clarity.
He wrote, “Since its founding, the United States has consistently pursued a grand strategy focused on acquiring and maintaining preeminent power over various rivals, first on the North American continent, then in the Western hemisphere, and finally globally,” and argued that “preserving U.S. primacy in the global system ought to remain the central objective of U.S. grand strategy in the twenty-first century.”
To sustain U.S. primacy vis-à-vis China, Blackwill laid out a game plan that President Joe Biden is following. Among other measures, Blackwill called on the U.S. to create “new preferential trading arrangements among U.S. friends and allies to increase their mutual gains through instruments that consciously exclude China,” “a technology-control regime” to block China’s strategic capabilities, a build-up of “power-political capacities of U.S. friends and allies on China’s periphery” and strengthened U.S. military forces along the Asian rimlands despite any Chinese opposition.
Most U.S. politicians and many in Britain, the EU, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand support the United States’ aggressive approach.
I do not. I view the U.S. approach to China as contrary to the U.N. Charter and peace...
The dangers of U.S. foreign policy extend beyond China. The U.S. goal to expand NATO to Ukraine and Georgia, thereby surrounding Russia in the Black Sea, helped stoke the Ukraine War. Countless nations see the danger of this approach. Major nations from Brazil to India and beyond aim for a multipolar world.
All U.N. member states should recommit to the U.N. Charter and oppose claims of dominance by any nation.
Jeffrey D. Sachs is a university professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, where he directed The Earth Institute from 2002 until 2016. He is also president of the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network and a commissioner of the U.N. Broadband Commission for Development.
President al-Assad discusses with Saudi Foreign Minister
bilateral relations, Arab and international files
Syrian Arab News Agency, 18 April 2023
Damascus – President Bashar al-Assad received Tuesday at the People’s Palace Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan and discussed with him the bilateral ties and other political international and regional files. The bilateral cooperation was present in the talks in the interest of the two peoples and countries.
The Saudi minister conveyed to President al-Assad greeting of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz. Crown.
President al-Assad, in turn, sent his greetings to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the brotherly Saudi people, stressing that the brotherhood that unites the Arabs remains the deepest of the bonds binding the Arab countries, and that the sound relations between Syria and the Kingdom are the natural state that should be, and these relations do not only constitute an interest for the two countries, but also reflect an Arab and regional interest.
President al-Assad attached great importance of the role of brotherly Arabs for several reasons, among which supporting the Syrian people, liberating all the Syrian territories, stabilizing the situation, and overcoming the consequences of the war on Syria.
He considered changing dynamics in the world entail the cooperation among Arab countries in this phase to invest such changes for the interest of people in all Arab countries.
The Saudi minister voiced his country’s confidence in the ability of Syria and its people to overcome all the war impacts and to achieve the sustainable development, stressing that the Kingdom stands by Syria and supports it to preserve its territorial integrity and restore stability and security, along with creating an environment conducive to the return of refugees and displaced persons.
The upcoming stage necessitates the return of the sound relations between Syria and the Arab States, in addition to the Arab and regional role of Syria to be better than before, bin Farhan noted.
Amman meeting prioritises refugees, drug-smuggling
in talks towards normalisation with Syria
The Arab Weekly, Tuesday 02/05/2023
The foreign ministers of Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan met in the Jordanian capital Amman on Monday, to discuss how to normalise ties with Syria as part of a political settlement that would address the complex ramifications of the war, which has shattered and divided the country.
The issue of the return home of Syrian refugees is said to have topped the agenda of the landmark meeting in Amman. Syria also agreed to help end drug-trafficking across its borders with Jordan and Iraq.
A final statement issued after the meeting said the officials had discussed pathways for the voluntary return home of millions of displaced Syrians and coordinated efforts to combat drug trafficking across Syria’s borders.
It said that Damascus had agreed to “take the necessary steps to end smuggling on the borders with Jordan and Iraq” and work over the next month to identify who was producing and transporting narcotics into those two countries.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the meeting was “a start, and the process is ongoing” to secure an end to the conflict.
“There must be steps on the ground that lead to an improvement in the reality in which Syria and the Syrians live,” Safadi said.
Syria’s Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad met bilaterally with Safadi before the group meeting to discuss refugees, water issues and border security, including the fight against drug-smuggling, according to Jordan’s foreign ministry.
Arab states and those most impacted by the conflict are trying to reach consensus on the pace of normalising ties with Assad, whether to invite him to the Arab League summit and on what terms Syria could be allowed back.
Presidents al-Assad, Raisi sign understanding memo
Syrian Arab News Agency, 3 May 2023
President Bashar al-Assad and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi signed Wednesday a memo of understanding on long-term comprehensive strategic cooperation plan between the two countries. The two sides also signed a number of cooperation agreements in various areas, including the agriculture, oil, transport, free zones, communications and other domians.
At a news briefing, President al-Assad said “Economic issues were at the core of our talks today. The memo of understanding signed and the numerous projects discussed will greatly advance the bilateral relations through developing mechanisms to increase trade exchange and investments between the two countries. In addition, they will mitigate the impacts of sanctions, taking advantage of changes in the global economic map and the gradual transition of balance to the East, which will liberate international economics from western hegemony.”
President al-Assad added: “Many issues were discussed today, foremost of which was the colonial powers’ attempts to undermine the stability of countries and divide them, which is an old colonial policy, but it still exists today.
The most effective way to confront them is to take advantage of the current positive opportunities represented by the improvement of relations between a number of countries in our region after decades of tension, based on the axiom that the countries and peoples of the region win together or lose together.”
President al-Assad went on to say: “In that context, we welcomed the development of relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as it will have a great positive impact on the immunity of countries in this important part of the world..."
Flashback 2016: Fighting for Wahhabism, Salafism and Jihadism
President Raisi, for his part, said: “The Islamic Republic of Iran has always affirmed its support for resistance and steadfastness… We stand by the Syrian government and people… We stand with the Syrian people who confronted the takfiri groups…
Today the Syrian people got rid of the takfiri groups.. And today we stand by the Syrian people during the stage of reconstruction, and we will stand by it...
What remains is a shame for all parties that committed assassinations and carried out terrorism against the Syrian people, who feel proud after years of steadfastness..."
“We are in the process of developing our relations with countries of the region, and we will seek to expand them without the presence of foreigners…
President Raisi concluded by saying: “We extend our hands to all the countries of the region and all the neighbors. This is our priority, and we extend our hands to them.
We believe that this relationship can cut off the hands of foreigners from our region..."
- Question: In retrospect do you believe the United States should have acted earlier in Syria, and if not why is now the right moment?
- Biden: The answer is ‘no’ for 2 reasons.:
One, the idea of identifying a moderate middle has been a chase America has been engaged in for a long time. We Americans think in every country in transition there is a Thomas Jefferson hiding beside some rock – or a James Madison beyond one sand dune.
The fact of the matter is there was no moderate middle, because the moderate middle are made up of shopkeepers, not soldiers...
Two: What my constant cry was that our biggest problem is our allies – our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria....
What were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except that the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world...
Now you think I’m exaggerating – take a look.... We could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them...
Russia, Ukraine & International Law
"The problem was not Ukraine,
but the way we conduct international relations."
by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, May 2023
Russia and China have far superior armaments to those of the West.
The way of thinking of the former colonial powers leads them to imagine that Russia and China will use their military superiority to impose their way of life on the rest of the world. But that is not their intention at all and that is not what they are doing.
Moscow and Beijing are constantly calling for the application of international law. The Russians want peace at home, while the Chinese hope to trade everywhere.
The events in Ukraine have made us forget Russia’s repeated demands since 2007:
it demands its own security guarantees, in particular the absence of arsenals belonging to third countries stored on its neighbour’s territory....
This is the meaning of all the negotiations for the reunification of Germany. The USSR was opposed to this, unless the New Germany undertook not to store Nato weapons in the East.
This was the meaning of all the negotiations with the former Warsaw Pact states. And this was also the meaning of the negotiations with all the states of the former USSR.
Moscow was not satisfied until 1999, when 30 OSCE member states signed the Istanbul Declaration, known as the "Charter for Security in Europe", which sets out two major principles :
• the right of each State to choose the allies of its choice and
• the duty of each State not to threaten the security of others in ensuring its own.
It was the violation of these principles, and it alone, that led to the Ukrainian conflict. This was the meaning of President Vladimir Putin’s speech at the Munich Security Conference in 2007, where he denounced the failure to comply with OSCE commitments and the establishment of a "monopoly" governance of the world.
On March 21, 2023, in Moscow, the Russian and Chinese presidents, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, agreed on a common strategy to ensure the triumph of international law.
Russia, which held the presidency of the United Nations Security Council in April, decided to hold an open debate on the theme: "Maintaining international peace and security: effective multilateralism based on the defence of the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter".
In the framework note (S/2023/244), circulated by Russia before the debate, Moscow explained how the Western unipolar order was replacing international law.
It also warned about the role of non-governmental actors, the so-called "NGOs", in this arrangement.
The Note concluded with a series of questions including: "What could be done to restore the culture of dialogue and consensus within the [United Nations] Organisation, including the Security Council? What is the best way to demonstrate that the current situation, marked by a selective approach to the norms and principles of international law, including the Charter, is unacceptable and cannot continue?
Russia praised the UN Charter and deplored its evolution over the past thirty years.
It pleaded for equality between all sovereign states and denounced the exorbitant power of the West and its unipolar organization. It recalled that the special military operation in Ukraine was the consequence of a coup d’état, in 2014 in Kiev, and that therefore the problem was not Ukraine, but the way we conduct international relations.
2007 Munich speech of Vladimir Putin
The 2007 Munich speech was given by Russian president Vladimir Putin in Germany on 10 February 2007 at the Munich Security Conference. The speech expressed significant points of future politics of Russia driven by Putin.
Putin criticized what he called the United States' monopolistic dominance in global relations, and its "almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations". The speech came to be known, especially in Russia, as the Munich speech. He said the result of such dominance was that, […] no one feels safe! Because no one can feel that international law is like a stone wall that will protect them. Of course such a policy stimulates an arms race.
Putin quoted a 1990 speech by Manfred Wörner to support his position that NATO promised not to expand into new countries in Eastern Europe:
[Worner] said at the time that: "the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee." Where are these guarantees?
Although NATO was still a year away from inviting Ukraine and Georgia to become NATO member-states in 2008, Putin emphasized how Russia perceived eastward expansion as a threat:
I think it is obvious that NATO expansion does not have any relation with the modernisation of the Alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended?
Arab League readmits Syria
By JAN YUMUL | China Daily | 2023-05-09
The Arab League's decision to restore Syria's membership marks a victory for the conflict-battered country and region, and the breakthrough will help Damascus normalize relations with the other member states of the pan-Arab organization, according to analysts.
On Sunday, foreign ministers of the Arab League nations voted at a meeting in the Egyptian capital Cairo to restore Syria's membership in the organization, ending 12 years of suspension and isolation.
The ministers also agreed on the need to intensify efforts "to help Syria out of its crisis" and preserve its sovereignty, unity, stability and regional integrity.
Khaled Almasri, a former dean of the Faculty of International Relations and Diplomacy at Al-Sham Private University in Damascus, said that Syria's return to the Arab fold was a symbolic step that could bring some change but Arab states and the Syrian government have yet to agree on concessions or solutions.
Dina Yulianti Sulaeman, director of the Indonesia Center for Middle East Studies and lecturer in international relations at Padjadjaran University in Indonesia, said the development represents "a victory for Syria" after the membership decision was postponed earlier because the Arab League adhered to the "agenda led by the United States".
Sulaeman said that amid the declining power of the US in the Middle East and "the increasingly significant role of China" in mediating various conflicts in the region, the Arab League countries "appear to be more daring" to make decisions that are contrary to the wishes of the US.
On Sunday, a committee made up of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, and Arab League representatives was formed to continue dialogue with the Syrian government to reach a comprehensive solution to the Syrian crisis.
Follow up group
This was a follow-up to a meeting held on May 1 in Amman, Jordan, among the foreign ministers of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt and Syria, to discuss a political solution to Syria's humanitarian, security and political crises.
Despite the decision to resume Syria's participation in the Arab League meetings, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, secretary-general of the Arab League, clarified that this does not imply that the Syrian crisis has been resolved and that it will take time to find a resolution.
The Arab Weekly, 9-5-2023
Sunday’s decision said Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and the Arab League’s Secretary General would form a ministerial group to liaise with the Syrian government and seek solutions to the crisis through reciprocal steps. Practical measures included continuing efforts to organise the delivery of aid in Syria.
Syria’s readmission follows a Jordanian initiative laying out a roadmap for ending Syria’s conflict which includes addressing the issues of refugees, missing detainees, drug-smuggling and Iranian militias in Syria.
Jordan is both a destination and a main transit route to the oil-rich Gulf countries for Captagon, a highly addictive amphetamine produced in Syria, and has hinted it could take unilateral action to curb the multi-billion dollar trade.
A Jordanian official said Syria would need to show it was serious about reaching a political solution, since this would be a pre-condition to lobbying for any lifting of Western sanctions, a crucial step for funding reconstruction in Syria.
Turkish, Syrian foreign ministers to meet in Moscow
Arab News|AFP, 09 May 2023
The foreign ministers of Turkiye and Syria will hold their first official meeting on Wednesday since the start of Syrian civil war more than a decade ago, officials said.
The talks in Moscow will also involve the top diplomats of Russia and Iran, Turkiye’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The announcement delivers a diplomatic boost to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan just days before he faces the toughest general election of his 21-year rule on Sunday.
Erdogan supported early rebel efforts to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad, keeping a military presence in northern stretches of the war-torn country that angers Damascus. But Erdogan reversed course after Turkiye plunged into an economic crisis two years ago.
Erdogan has made up with former rivals across the region and is now courting a presidential summit with Assad.
A reconciliation with Syria is also supported by Erdogan’s opponents and plays an important part in the election campaign.
Erdogan has pledged to speed up the repatriation of nearly four million Syrian refugees and migrants who fled to Turkiye to escape poverty and war. An agreement with Damascus is seen as a prerequisite for this process.
MOSCOW, May 10. /TASS/ : A four-party meeting between the foreign ministers of Russia, Syria, Turkey and Iran, Sergey Lavrov, Faisal Mekdad, Mevlut Cavusoglu and Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, kicked off in Moscow on Wednesday, a TASS correspondent reports.
Before this meeting, Cavusoglu said that he was hoping to discuss with his colleagues, among other issues, the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland as well as the war on terrorism.
Syria decides to resume work of its diplomatic mission in Saudi Arabia
SANA, Damascus, 9-5-2023
Syria has announced the resumption of its diplomatic mission in Saudi Arabia.
An official source at Foreign and Expatriates Ministry told SANA that ” based on the deep ties and common belonging of the two peoples of the Syrian Arab Republic and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,and as an embodiment of the aspirations of the two peoples, and as Syria believes in the importance of boosting bilateral relations among Arab countries in the interest of the Arab joint action, The Syrian Arab Republic decided to resume the work of its diplomatic mission in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced today the resumption of its diplomatic mission in Syria.
US says Syria does not deserve Arab League readmission
Rudaw News [Kurdistan Region], 9-5-2023
The US on Monday expressed its dissatisfaction with the Arab League’s decision to readmit Syria back into the group.
“We do not believe that Syria merits readmission to the Arab League at this time, and it’s a point that we’ve made clear with all of our partners,” US Department of State Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters.
“We will not normalize our relations with the Assad regime,” Patel said, referring to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.
“We do not support our allies and partners in doing so either,” he added.
Syria 2017 - illegal US military presence
President al-Assad receives an invitation by king of Saudi Arabia
Syrian Arab News Agency, 10 May 2023
President Bashar al-Assad received an invitation from Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, King of the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to participate in the thirty-second round of the Arab League Council meeting at the summit level, which will be held in Jeddah on May 19 .
The invitation was conveyed to His Excellency by Ambassador Nayef Al-Sudairi, The Saudi Ambassador to Jordan.
President Al-Assad conveyed his greetings and thanks to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for the invitation, stressing that the upcoming Arab summit in Saudi Arabia will enhance joint Arab action to achieve the aspirations of the Arab peoples.
Flashback - Bashar al-Assad's speech, 10-1-2012
The strength of Arabism lies in its diversity
The social structure of the Arab world, with its large diversity, is based on two strong and integrated pillars: Arabism and Islam. Both of them are great, rich and vital. Consequently, we cannot blame them for the wrong human practices. Some of those believe they are revolutionaries
Furthermore, the Muslim and Christian diversity in our country is a major pillar of our Arabism and a foundation of our strength. ...
We should always know that Arabism is an identity not a membership. Arabism is an identity given by history not a certificate given by an organization.
Arabism is an honor that characterizes Arab peoples not a stigma carried by some pseudo-Arabs on the Arab or world political stage. ...
The last thing in Arabism is race. Arabism is a question of civilization, a question of common interests, common will and common religions. It is about the things which bring about all the different nationalities which live in this place.
The strength of this Arabism lies in its diversity not in its isolation and not in its one colordness. Arabism hasn’t been built by the Arabs. Arabism has been built by all those non-Arabs who contributed to building it and those who belong to this rich society in which we live. Its strength lies in its diversity. ... The strength of our Arabism lies in openness, diversity and in showing this diversity not integrating it to look like one component.
Arabism has been accused for decades of chauvinism. This is not true. If there are chauvinistic individuals, this doesn’t mean that Arabism is chauvinistic. It is a condition of civilization.
In cases of war or confrontation, states rearrange their priorities. Our utmost priority now, which is unparalleled by any other priority, is the restoration of the security we have enjoyed for decades, and which has characterized our country, not only in the region but throughout the world.
This will only happen by striking the murderous terrorists hard. There is no compromise with terrorism, no compromise with those who use arms to cause chaos and division, no compromise with those who terrorize civilians, no compromise with those who conspire with foreigners against their country and against their people..
Some of those really believe that they are revolutionaries. All right, let’s see what they have done and what are their attributes.
Would a real revolutionary steal a car or rob a house or a facility? Can the revolutionary be a thief?
For us, the image of the revolutionary is a bright, idealistic untainted one with something very special about it.
Those people have assassinated innocent people in and out of the state system. Can a revolutionary be characterized by cowardice and treachery? They prevented the schools from carrying out their tasks and functions in society. They did the same in universities. Can a revolutionary be against education? Can revolutionaries use language which calls for the disintegration of society? Can revolutionaries be without honor, moral values or religious principles?
Have we had real revolutionaries, in the sense we know, you and I and the whole people would have moved with them. This is a fact...
The seven gates of Damascus
Seven planets in the orbit of history
Syrian Arab News Agency, 6 May 2023
Damascus, which is considered the oldest inhabited city in the world, was the focus of attention of the invaders throughout the ages, so the factors of defending and protecting it necessitated surrounding it with a wall of huge stones in which doors were opened for entry and exit...
Researcher, Kamal Al Imam, said that the construction of Damascus Wall and its gates took place during the era of the Roman Empire and remained the same after the Muslim Arabs entered the city in year 14 H, 635 AD...
In the Roman era, the wall was maintained and seven gates appeared in relation to the seven planets known at the time, and the symbols of these planets were carved on the gates because they believed that they protect the city.
Parts of the wall were destroyed in 749 AD by the Abbasids, and the wall began to collapse. Then it was refortified in 1174 AD during the reign of Nur al-Din al-Zanki, and new doors were opened, including Bab al-Faraj and Bab al-Nasr.
As for the main gates of Damascus, they are only seven; Bab Touma, Bab al-Salam, And Bab Al-Fradis, Bab Al-Jabiya, Bab Al-Saghir, Bab Kisan and Bab Sharqi.
Bab Sharqi is associated with the Sun, Bab Touma Gate is associated with Venus, the Peace Gate (Bab Assalam) is associated with the Moon, the Paradise Gate is associated with Mercury, the Jabiya Gate is associated with Mars, the Small Gate (Assaghir) is associated with Jupiter, and the Kisan Gate is associated with Saturn.
The Seven gates of Damascus reflect the early civilization in the oldest inhabited city in the world...
After years of unjust war against Syria we say that the doors of Damascus will remain open to all visitors.
The Seven Gates - Info Site
Israel, Egypt to expand gas pipeline infrastructure
More gas to Egypt, which is converted to LNG and sold to Europe
The Craddle|News Desk - May 09 2023
The Israeli government has approved a plan to expand the infrastructure networks for transporting natural gas to Egypt, the Globes newspaper reported on 8 May.
The plans include building a 65-kilometer pipeline from Israel to the border with the Sinai Peninsula, with the aim of increasing the volume of gas supply to Egypt.
According to the Globes, “The development will enable the infrastructure in this part to increase the volume of natural gas supply to Egypt, as well as to Europe, which suffers from energy shortages due to the Ukrainian crisis.”
Israeli gas transported by pipeline is not meant for Egyptian consumption, as the Arab nation is able to meet its domestic needs from its own sources. Rather, the Israeli gas is converted to liquefied natural gas (LNG) at Egyptian facilities for further delivery to Europe by ship.
In June 2022, Israel and Egypt signed a memorandum of understanding with the EU, the first to allow “significant” exports of Israeli gas to Europe, Israel’s energy ministry said at the time.
Under the agreement, the EU encouraged European companies to participate in Israeli and Egyptian exploration tenders, the ministry said...
The war between Russia and Ukraine, which began in February 2022, resulted in EU and US sanctions on Russia, which cut off Europe’s supply of cheap Russian gas, including through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
In 2021, the EU purchased 155 bcm of gas from Russia, which accounted for 40% of its annual consumption. The lost Russian supply both forced Europe to turn to other sources to meet its gas needs and drastically raised the market price of natural gas in world markets.
Notably, Europe began importing large quantities of LNG from the United States, which is much more expensive to produce and transport than Russian gas delivered by pipeline.
The resultant increase in world natural gas prices made the export of Israeli gas to Europe following conversion to LNG in Egypt profitable.
The Jerusalem Post - Israel News
Abbas at UN disavows Jewish ties to Al-Aqsa,
"They lie, lie, and lie until people believe...”
By Tovah Lazaroff, 15-5-2023
There is no proof of Jewish ties to the area of Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday at the United Nations. He mentioned Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount and its adjacent Western Wall.
“They [Israel] dug under al-Aqsa… they dug everywhere, and they could not find anything,” Abbas said.
He spoke during a special session of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People to mark the 75th anniversary of Nakba Day, Arabic for “Catastrophe Day,” the term Palestinians use to describe the 1948 war.
The UN also held a second Nakba Day event in the General Assembly hall on Monday evening with musical performances and films.
Unesco & The Temple
Israel has in the past waged a stiff diplomatic battle against Palestinian attempts at the UN to disavow its connection to the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif, the third-holiest site in Islam.
It also protested the UN General Assembly resolution approved last November to hold Nakba Day events for the first time at the organization’s headquarters in New York.
In his speech, Abbas emphasized that “the ownership of al-Buraq Wall [the Western Wall] and al-Haram al-Sharif [Temple Mount] belongs exclusively and only to the Islamic Wakf alone.” He cited a 1930 League of Nations report that he said affirmed this conclusion.
During his speech, Abbas said the US and the UK were responsible for the permanent displacement of what he said was close to a million Palestinians during the 1948 war.
These two countries “bear political and ethical responsibility directly for the Nakba of the Palestinian people because they took part in rendering our people a victim when they decided to establish and plant another entity [the Jewish people] in our historic homeland,” he said.
The US and the UK did this for “their own colonial goals and objectives,” Abbas said, adding that “Israel would not have continued its hostility and aggression without the support it receives from these two countries.”
Comparing Israel's narrative to Nazi propaganda
He compared Israel’s rendition of its historical narrative to the kind of misinformation disseminated by Nazi propaganda minister Goebbels during World War II.
“The Israelis and Zionists continue their false claims that Israel made the desert bloom,” he said. “Palestine was a desert, and they made it blossom, a paradise. They can’t but lie. But what can we do? They lie and lie just like Goebbels. They lie, lie and lie until people believe.”
The early Zionists “falsely” claimed that “Palestine was a land without people,” but this was never true, Abbas said, adding that the Palestinians were descendants of the biblical Canaanites. This was proven “in religious scriptures, including the Torah,” he said.
“But the biggest lie is the claim that Israel is the only democratic state in the Middle East… How can you have an occupation and still call yourself a democracy. It’s an oxymoron” to do so, Abbas said.
He said the UN should implement the hundreds of resolutions it has issued upholding the rights of Palestinians, including Resolution 181 from 1947, which he said called for the establishment of an Arab state “for the Palestinian people on 44% of the total area of historic Palestine alongside the state of Israel.”
Israel should be forced to accept Resolutions 181 and 194 on the return of Palestinian refugees or face suspension, Abbas said.
“We demand today officially” that the UN must insist that Israel respect “these resolutions or suspend Israel’s membership in the UN,” he said...
Western Silence Needs to be Confronted
By Ilan Pappe, Palestine Chronicle, May 17, 2023
The Gaza Strip was bombarded from the air, land, and sea, and, once more, Israeli inhumanity and cruelty are met with Western silence. We have written countless times about it. And imagine how many times a generation older than ours cried out against this injustice dating back to the days of the Nakba, if not even before it.
May 2023 Attack on Gaza
During the Nakba, when the Zionist forces began their ethnic cleansing operation in February 1948 with the forceful eviction of three villages around Qaysariya, the British officials and army were still there, bound to protect the lives and property of the Palestinians according to the Mandate charter and the United Nations partition resolution.
But the local British representatives stood by when the ethnic cleansing escalated with the urbicide (the systematic destruction of towns and neighborhoods) that raged in April 1948. In some cases, they even assisted the Zionist forces in implementing the ethnic cleansing.
This stage in the dispossession turned more than a quarter of a million Palestinians into refugees which forced a reluctant Arab world to send its troops to save the rest. But it did so only when Britain left Palestine on 15 May 1948. By then, such intervention was useless.
Before and after the end of the Mandate, Western journalists and emissaries of organizations such as the UN and the International Red Cross were present on the ground. American journalists embedded with the Zionist forces reported massacres in al-Lid and other places and yet the war crimes were not condemned...
The silence sent an important message to the new state of Israel: crimes such as ethnic cleansing – which were condemned in the very same year by the 1948 famous Declaration of Human Rights – are allowed in the case of the Jewish state.
The absence of any Western or UN response continued when Israel erased any trace of Palestinian culture and life in the wake of the cleansing operations, by building Jewish settlements and planting recreational parks on the ruins of Palestinian villages.
The history of Western silence continued into the 1950s...
The fact that after the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967, it was much easier to gather information about the Israeli criminal policies did not alter the response of the West. It only accentuated the hypocrisy of the West and the exceptionalism granted to Israel.
Ilan Pappé is a professor at the University of Exeter. He was formerly a senior lecturer in political science at the University of Haifa. He is the author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, The Modern Middle East, A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples, and Ten Myths about Israel.