As a prominent sponsor of the war in Syria since 2011, Qatar is among a few outlier states in West Asia that oppose normalization
Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, received an invitation from Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud on 10 May to attend the next Arab League summit, which will be held in the Kingdom on 19 May.
Qatar News Agency reported that Prince Mansour bin Khalid bin Farhan Al-Saud, the Kingdom’s envoy to Doha, delivered the written communication from King Salman to the Qatari Emir, which included an invitation to attend the Arab League Council’s 32nd regular session in Saudi Arabia.
Earlier in the day, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad also received an invitation from the Saudi king, in yet another display of Saudi Arabia’s newfound diplomatic role in the region.
The invitations were delivered a few days after the Arab League moved to reinstate Syria after a nearly 12-year suspension and a day after Riyadh and Damascus reopened their diplomatic missions.
Despite the ongoing regional rapprochement, Qatar has refused to normalize relations with Syria.
“The State of Qatar always seeks to support achieving Arab consensus and will not be an obstacle to that, but the official position of the State of Qatar on normalization with the Syrian regime is a decision linked primarily to progress in the political solution that fulfills the aspirations of the Syrian people,” Qatar’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Majed bin Mohammad al-Ansari said on Sunday.
Doha remains one of the main instigators of the western-backed war in Syria through its funding of extremist groups. Al-Jazeera – Qatar’s most prominent media outlet – also served to spark the conflict due to its often biased and inciteful coverage of events in Syria at the time.
According to an in-depth investigation by The Cradle, Qatar’s adversarial footprint in Syria has continued unabated, with Doha upholding ties with extremist groups, including the Al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front (which controls Idlib governorate and areas in the countryside of Aleppo), and has transformed the Syrian embassy in Doha into an operations room for adversaries of Syria.
According to The National, Syria’s return to the Arab League is “conditional” based on “the return of Syrian refugees without retribution, a credible political process leading to elections, and steps to end narcotics smuggling from Syria into neighboring countries.”