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Arab League Chief Concerned Syria Safe Zones May Become Outside Influence Tool

© AFP 2021 / STRAn image of the Syrian flag in Damascus
An image of the Syrian flag in Damascus - Sputnik International
Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit expressed concern in an interview with Sputnik that the zones of de-escalation in Syria may become permanent and fall under the influence of the ceasefire guarantor-countries.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The secretary general noted that the Arab League considers it vital that Arab affairs be decided by the Arabs themselves.

"We have some concerns, and they are logical, that the de-escalation zones will become permanent, isolated from each other, and will be influenced by the guarantor-countries: Russia, Iran, and Turkey," Aboul Gheit, who is on a visit to Russia, said in an interview with Sputnik.

Members of the Russian Military police stand guard in the northern city of Manbij as Syrians who fled the city of Aleppo due to the fighting prepare to return to their hometown, on April 5, 2017 - Sputnik International
Russian Military Police in Syrian Safe Zones to Carry Light Weapons
He added that he conveyed his concerns to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who assured that Russia was striving to preserve the Syrian state and its territorial integrity.

On May 4, Russia, Turkey and Iran signed a memorandum on the establishment of safe zones in war-torn Syria as part of the the Astana talks on Syrian settlement. The four zones include the northwestern Idlib province and parts of the neighboring Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces, the north of the central Homs province, eastern Ghouta near Damascus and certain parts in the country's southern Deraa and Quneitra provinces. The memorandum on these de-escalation zones took effect on May 6.

Syria's Arab League Membership

The reinstatement of Syria's membership in the League of Arab States is not being discussed at present, Aboul Gheit said.

According to Aboul Gheit, the return of Syria to the Arab League could take place after the resolution of the Syrian conflict within the framework of the Geneva process.

"When the countries reach an agreement on this issue, and adopt a unanimous decision in the framework of Geneva, one of the actions will be the reinstatement of Syria in the Arab League," Aboul Gheit said.

The Arab League LAS suspended Syria's membership in the organization in 2011, citing the government's illegal actions against the protesters.

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