In an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Mostafa Najafi referred to the remarks of the Speaker of the Jordanian Parliament who said that Syria is the inheritance of Muslims and that it is time to return to the Arab world by returning to the Arab League, adding: In 2018, the UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus, despite all opposition; the United States had even threatened Abu Dhabi not to normalize relations with Damascus, but the Arab world has decided to include Syria in the region’s political processes and structures.
He described the remarks by the Jordanian speaker as a continuation of the normalization of relations with Syria, which has intensified in recent months and added: The Syrian foreign minister’s statement that there are 14 Arab embassies in the country indicates that the ground has been prepared for Syria to return to political relations and regional structures of the Arab world; but what could ultimately give Bashar Assad’s government a regional status is its re-entry into the Arab League and the organizations it was ousted from after the events of 2011.
Efforts by Arab countries to compete with Iran and Turkey in Syria
Referring to the published news about the visit of a delegation from Saudi Arabia to Syria, Najafi continued: All this shows that the truth about Assad’s presence at the head of the Syrian political system has been accepted by the Arab countries after about 11 years of trying to overthrow it and they intend to enter into the economic and political phase of the competition as a new stage in Syria; because in the difficult debates on influencing in Syria, they came to the conclusion that their project has failed and now they have to enter the political phase of competition in Syria, especially competition with Iran.
He explained: A large part of the decision to normalize relations between Arab countries and Syria goes back to their competition with Iran and Turkey. Despite all of Erdogan’s animosity with Bashar Assad, Turkey is Syria’s second largest trading partner and the two sides have managed to keep their trade relations at certain level, but now the UAE is looking to invest heavily in Syria.
The analyst of Syria affairs explained: Understanding this issue and recognizing the economic and political developments that exist in the future of Syria, the Arab countries seek to enter into the current reality and its political system through the security and military phase and overthrowing the Syrian political system and compete with Iran and Turkey and it seems that the Americans also seem to have shown some leniency in this regard; as we see in the case of launching the project to transfer Egyptian gas to Lebanon, which passes through Syria.
Consequences of normalization of Syrian-Arab relations on Axis of Resistance
Regarding the consequences of Syria’s political relations with Arab countries on the Axis of Resistance, Najafi stressed: In critical situations, no actor in the regional environment has the ability and capacity to act as much as Iran and the Axis of Resistance; but the important question is, in the context of political and possibly economic stability, what is the plan of the Resistance to act and influence in Syria? Given that Syria is the backbone of the Resistance, it is very important to formulate a strategy to continue the path.
He said: If the Axis of Resistance wants to enter into a stable competition with a comparative advantage in Syria, it must activate economic mechanisms in this region and in Syria; otherwise, it will face a reduction in its influence and will be severely surprised. As the volume of foreign trade of Arab countries, especially the UAE and Turkey, is increasing in Syria.
The expert on Syria affairs, referring to the policy of the West, the United States and some Arab countries to normalize relations of Arab countries with the Zionist regime, considered the possibility of pursuing such a project with regard to Syria, adding: If the Arab countries want to condition their relations with Syria and include the Israeli regime into such relations, although Assad has always been defined within the Resistance Front, it is not beyond expectation that he will move towards reducing tensions and even declaring ceasefire in the south and southeast of Syria. Perhaps, this may be one of the main targets of the UAE and the Arab countries in normalizing relations with Syria.
Referring to the policy of the West, the United States and some Arab countries to normalize Arab relations with the Zionist regime, Najafi said that it is possible to pursue such a project in Syria and specified: Although Assad has always been defined within the resistance front, it is unlikely that he will reduce tensions and even fire in the southern and southeastern regions of Syria. This may be one of the main goals of the UAE and the Arab countries in normalizing relations with Syria.
Saying that Syria is an influential country in the Arab world and its implicit and possible cooperation with the reconciliation process with the Zionist regime could advance a major part of the reconciliation project in the region, he added: It is not unreasonable to expect that the target of this large-scale regional project is to create a rift in the Axis of Resistance. Of course, they may not be able to make Syria part of the reconciliation process, but as long as Syria does not disrupt the process or convince the Syrian government that from within the Syrian security environment no disruption will be caused, it can be an achievement for them..
The analyst of Syria affairs pointed to some efforts to bring Iraq into the process of normalizing relations with the Zionist regime and continued: It is not possible to define the exact perspective of Syria’s decision on the normalization project with the Zionist regime; but it is not beyond expectation that Syria will, willingly or unwillingly, move towards a regional reconciliation process to achieve political and economic stability.
Najafi added: What can keep Bashar Assad now is not just a large military force, but a return to regional processes and the reconstruction process to maintain and strengthen the country’s political system for future developments in the region. Definitely, to return to the Arab world, the help and support of actors such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE is effective; therefore, it is possible that part of their demands, which are in line with the grand compromise project in the region, will be in a direction that Bashar Assad should need to act smartly and not play on their field.