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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Iran Infiltrated the Arab League

Filed under: Iran

Iran Infiltrated the Arab League
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in discussions with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Assad, May 18, 2023 in Jeddah. (SANA screenshot)
  • Syria’s return to the Arab League legitimizes President Bashar Assad, who committed war crimes against his own people and endangers Israel’s interests.
  • Syria represents the interests of Iran, which is becoming a nuclear threshold state. In addition, Iran could provide a protective nuclear umbrella to the “axis of resistance” that seeks to destroy Israel.

The Arab League summit conference ended last weekend In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where Syrian President Assad participated for the first time in 12 years. Saudi Arabia pressured Arab countries to return Syria to the Arab League, which had boycotted Syria since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, because of the massacres by Bashar Assad of his own people.

The summary statement of the Arab Summit conference in Jeddah stated:

“We call for an end to external interventions in the internal affairs of Arab countries and emphasize the importance of increasing efforts to reach a just settlement of the Palestinian problem. We hope that Syria’s return to the Arab League will contribute to Arab stability.”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman managed to overcome all the disputes between Arab countries and return Syria to the Arab League with the help of Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, and Tunisia.

At the head of the countries opposing the return of Syria to the Arab League was Qatar, the primary supporter of the “Muslim Brotherhood” movement, which supports the Sunni Muslims who make up the majority in Syria and who were subjected to the massacres of the Alawite regime of Bashar Assad.

Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad left the summit before Assad’s speech as a sign of protest over Syria’s return to the Arab League.

In his speech at the summit conference, President Assad refused to acknowledge the mistakes he committed and his crimes against the Syrian people. Instead, he emphasized that Syria is the “heart of the Arabs” and spoke against “foreign interventions” in Arab countries, while completely ignoring the massive Iranian presence in Syria and Iran’s interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries. He harshly criticized the “Ottoman expansion” and aimed his words at Turkey’s military presence in Syria.

Bashar al-Assad at the Arab League summit
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the Arab League summit, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (Saudi Press Agency)

The Introduction of the Syrian Mafia into Arab Leadership

The return of Syria to the Arab League legitimizes the regime of Bashar al-Assad, who massacred hundreds of thousands of his people. First, he transformed by force seven million Syrian citizens into refugees. Then he allowed Syria to boost its domestic product by massively engaging in drug smuggling in the Middle East. The president’s brother, General Maher al-Assad, the commander of elite Fourth Armored Division, is considered the biggest drug dealer in the area and is known as the Syrian “Pablo Escobar.”

Gen. Maher al-Assad
Gen. Maher al-Assad (2008, Wikipedia)

Assad is Iran’s representative in the Arab League and represents Iran’s agendas in the Middle East. He received a de facto award from Arab countries for his crimes against the Syrian people. At the same time, the international community is silent despite his horrific war crimes.

His participation in the Arab summit conference in Jeddah symbolizes Arab hypocrisy and Saudi Arabia’s fear of Iran. Assad’s position in the Arab world has been strengthened, and his legitimized oppressive rule will lead to more killings of his opponents internally and outside of Syria – in Iranian style.

Israel is following with concern Syria’s return to the Arab League. This move further proves the weakening of American influence in the Middle East and the strengthening of the Russian-Chinese axis.

In an assessment of the situation, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant told the IDF leadership: “This is an unprecedented moral low that the Arab League welcomes with open arms Syria, whose leader is responsible for murdering hundreds of thousands of civilians through airstrikes and artillery on population centers, hospitals, queues for food distribution, and aid centers.”

An Open Tent for Iran

Saudi Arabia changed its policy and improved its relations with Iran primarily to end the war in Yemen, which caused heavy economic damage.

The presence of Syria in the Arab League will strengthen the Iranian influence on the Arab countries, while it progresses toward becoming a nuclear threshold state that has established itself militarily in Syrian territory, thanks to Assad. The recent visit of Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi to Syria also significantly strengthened the economic ties between the two countries.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad at an official ceremony
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad at an official ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Damascus, Syria, May 3, 2023 (Handout from the Iranian President’s Office)

An Iranian nuclear umbrella will protect the axis of resistance led by Iran, which will be able to operate with greater freedom to try to destroy Israel using the late Iranian Quds Force head Qassem Soleimani’s strategy to create a multi-front noose around Israel’s neck of hundreds of thousands of rockets, missiles, and drones.

Syria’s return to the Arab League as Iran’s de facto representative harms the chances of establishing an Arab-Israeli military alliance against Iran. The Gulf countries care, first and foremost, about their own interests in the new reality created in the Middle East.

Israel sent a clear message to several countries in the international community, including the United States, that Syria’s return to the Arab League would not prevent Israeli forces from attacking any place from where terrorism against Israel is launched. A senior security official vowed that the Israeli war against Iran’s military establishment in Syria would continue.