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Arab League votes unanimously to re-admit Syria

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (C), Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit (L), and assistant Secretary-General of the Arab League Hossam Zaki (R)   -  
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After an absence that lasted more than a decade, the Arab League has voted unanimously to re-admit Syria into the organization.

The decision was announced on Sunday during an emergency Arab League meeting held in Cairo.

"Syria, starting this evening, has become a full member of the Arab League. And from tomorrow morning, they have the right to occupy any seat they have, and if they are invited by the host country, which is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (for the next Arab summit on May 19 in KSA, Ed.) and if he (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Ed.) wishes to participate, he will", said Ahmed Aboul Gheit, head of the Arab League.

The United Arab Emirates, which re-established ties with Syria in late 2018, has been leading the recent efforts to reintegrate Damascus into the Arab fold.

"I strongly expect that many European and Western countries may not welcome this Arab decision, but this is an independent Arab decision which sees that the Arab interest requires, at this particular time, not to leave the Syrian issue like this", added Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

Following the announcement, Syria's foreign ministry stressed the importance of "Arab cooperation".

In the streets of the capital, Damascus, the decision to re-admit Syria into the Arab League was met with joy by local residents.

“From the beginning, this shouldn’t have happened. Syria is an integral member at the Arab League and so we welcome this news. We hope that it is a fresh start and a return of good relations with other Arab countries that could help the Syrian people”, said local resident, Ahmed Eissi.

Another local resident, Ibrahim Taani, added:

“The return of Syria to the Arab League is a great decision that could help ease some of the needs of the Syrian people, whether that's travel or economic stability. The dollar is crazy now and prices are expensive, so hopefully prices will go down and the citizens can rest more than before".

The Arab League suspended Damascus in November 2011 over its crackdown on peaceful protests which began earlier that year and which spiralled into a conflict that has killed more than 500,000 people, displaced millions and battered the country's infrastructure and industry.

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