Syria is emerging from its isolation. Its president, Bashar Al Assad, is invited to the next Arab League summit, which will take place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. His country had been excluded from this organization in 2011, after the repression of a popular uprising which had degenerated into a civil war. The conflict, which is not over, has killed around 500,000 people and displaced nearly half the population.
The Arab League’s decision was taken at the instigation of Saudi Arabia, which intends to play a pivotal role in the Middle East. While calming its relations with Iran, its great regional rival, it wants to regain a foothold in Syria – and in Iraq. She rushes because Moscow and Tehran, main supporters of Bashar Al Assad, are trying to associate Turkey with their cartel. In short: taboos are falling and the surrounding powers are attacking pragmatism.
Seen from Europe, this is more like appalling cynicism. Terrible dictator, Bashar Al Assad is indeed the first person responsible for a war that could never have started. He deserves to appear before an international tribunal. Its power remains fragile: a third of the territory still escapes it and it would collapse without the military commitment of Russia and Iran. For France, which no longer has diplomatic relations with Damascus since 2012, the changes underway raise a formidable question: should it initiate a process of normalization? The stakes are also humanitarian: the regime prevents any assistance to the population that does not pass through organizations under its control. In fact, the solution must also come from the Syrians. The wisest thing is to wait for a dialogue to start between the power and the opposition in exile.