Qatar: Stance on normalizing ties with Syria has not changed despite Arab League vote

The vote in favor of returning Syria to the Arab League after a 12-year suspension did not change Qatar’s official stance on normalizing ties with Syria, the Qatari foreign ministry said on Sunday.

“Qatar always seeks to support whatever achieves Arab consensus and will not be an obstacle to that. However, Qatar’s official stance on normalization with the Syrian regime is a decision primarily linked to progress in reaching a political resolution that realizes the aspirations of the brotherly Syrian people,” said Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Majed al-Ansari.

He added that Qatar hopes the Arab League’s decision would motivate the Syrian regime to address the roots of the crisis that led to its suspension in the first place, and to take positive steps towards addressing the issues of the Syrian people and improving its relations with neighboring Arab countries in way that enhances the security and stability of the region.

Earlier on Sunday, representative of Arab governments voted in Cairo to return Syria to the Arab League. This came days after top diplomats from Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Egypt held talks in Amman centering around reaching a political solution to the Syrian crisis. The vote also comes days ahead of the upcoming Arab League Summit to be hosted by Saudi Arabia on May 19.

Qatar has long been a vocal critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime since the eruption of the war in 2011. From the onset of the conflict, Doha has been providing support to the Syrian opposition and calling for the removal of Assad from power.

Qatar has been active in extending financial and military aid to various opposition groups in Syria and has advocated for international intervention in the conflict. It has also played a significant role in the diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict, hosting numerous rounds of peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups.

Ahead of the vote on Syria’s Arab League membership, Qatar’s Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said last month: “Qatar’s position is clear that there were reasons to suspend Syria’s membership, and these reasons still exist.”

He added: “We do not want to impose solutions on the Syrian people, and there must be a political solution… We do not take any step without a political solution, and each country has its own decision and sovereign right.”

The Arab League vote is a significant development in movements by the Arab world to normalize ties with Assad’s regime. Assad’s government had previously been politically isolated in the region over Syria’s bloody civil war which has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions.

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