Members of the Egyptian parliament on Saturday called for Syria to be fully reinstated to the Arab League and invited to its upcoming annual summit, five years after the bloc suspended Damascus over a harsh crackdown against protesters.
The call by the parliamentary committee for Arab affairs sparked controversy in Egypt between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime, Israel Radio reported. While the regime itself is thought to have the backing of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, he has never expressed personal support for his embattled Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad.
Jordan said earlier this month that it would not invite Syria to the summit, which is due to take place near the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea on March 29.
“How the invitations are dealt with will be based on the decisions of the Arab League, and we will abide by what it has decided,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said.
The bloc suspended Syria’s membership in late 2011 after anti-regime demonstrations were met with brutal repression.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called this month for Damascus to be allowed to rejoin the bloc, saying that could help in the search for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.
But Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit, speaking alongside Lavrov in Abu Dhabi, ruled out an early return of Syria to the Cairo-based bloc.
Some of the Arab League’s most influential members, including Saudi Arabia, are sworn enemies of the Damascus regime which is backed by Riyadh’s regional rival Tehran.
Safadi said that Jordan was not in direct contact with Iran over the Syrian conflict.
More than 310,000 people have been killed in Syria since the war began in March 2011, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
AFP contributed to this report