Arab League holds summit with surprise attendee Zelenskyy and return of Assad
At the recent Arab League Summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Syria's President Bashar al-Assad was warmly welcomed back after being cut off from most of the Arab community for over ten years. He was met with open arms by leaders who were once against him, including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The warming ties may signal a new approach to dealing with Assad. However, the feeling is not shared by all, as some Western countries and many Syrians still consider him a war criminal.
Assad spoke with other leaders, such as Egypt's Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Tunisian President Kais al-Saeid. These interactions further showed his return to the Arab community.
However, Qatar's Emir, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who previously called Assad a war criminal, left before Assad spoke. Syrian news reported a brief talk between the two, but other news organizations did not confirm it happened.
In an unexpected move, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also attended the summit before he headed to the G7 in Japan. Zelenskyy presented a 10-point peace plan to the delegates and asked for support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. He also thanked Saudi Arabia for past assistance. Saudi Arabia's crown prince signaled his readiness to mediate between the two nations.
Despite the mounting pressure from the West on Gulf oil producers to isolate Russia, the Gulf states have attempted to maintain neutrality in the Ukrainian conflict. Russia, like these states, is a member of OPEC+.