Lebanon is hosting Arab Economic and Social Development Summit which would help the nation attract the needed foreign investments to revive its economy. All countries that are part of the Arab League have been extended invitations, except for Syria. Lebanon’s Hezbollah, an Islamist political and militant group is building pressure on the national authorities to invite the Syrian delegation, but the Lebanese government had ignored the request.
The summit will be held in the country’s capital, Beirut on January 19-20. It is considered to be an important event and would help the nation strengthen its political and economic relations with Arab countries.
After the cancellation of Syria’s readmission to the Arab League, it is believed that Syrian leader Bashar Assad would also not be invited to be to the next Arab League summit which is planned to be held in Tunisia in March.
The Arab League invalidated Syria’s membership in November 2011 and imposed political as well as economic sanctions as a consequence of government repression during the Syrian Civil War. Three months later, the Gulf Cooperation Council states also withdrew their ambassadors from Damascus.
In Lebanon, Iranian-backed Hezbollah is forcing the government to invite Syria to the summit. The group stated that inviting Syria “would strengthen Lebanon and would be in its strategic interest, especially as current developments are creating a positive Arab atmosphere that is seeing Arab states rushing back to Damascus, and as Syria’s closest neighbor and considering the country’s interests, Lebanon should be at the forefront of efforts to reinforce and strengthen this atmosphere”.
The group also suggested that if Syria is invited then the summit should be postponed. Lebanon rejected both suggestions.
Rafiq Chlala, head of the summit’s media committee, told Arab News, “Lebanon is hosting and organizing the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit but is not the one inviting states. Invitations remain the competence of the Arab League.”
He added, “Syria had not attended the previous Arab summits upon the Arab League’s decision, but it can return to participating by a decision from the Arab League.”
Lebanese President Michel Aoun cleared the nation’s stand on it claiming that Lebanon has nothing to do with this issue and confirmed that despite facing the political deadlock in forming a new government the summit will not be postponed and will be held on time