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Aoun’s Hosting of Economic Summit Vexes Syria

Aoun’s Hosting of Economic Summit Vexes Syria

Saturday, 19 January, 2019 - 07:30
Lebanese President Michel Aoun meets with Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit. Dalati and Nohra photo
Beirut - Mohamed Choucair
Syria has been annoyed by Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s failure to heed calls from his allies to postpone the Arab Economic and Development Summit in Beirut after the Arab League did not send an invitation to Damascus.

Lebanese ministerial sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday that the Syrian regime had high hopes that an initiative by Aoun and its allies in Beirut would lead to the postponement of Sunday’s summit.

The Arab League suspended Syria in November 2011, as the death toll rose in the regime's brutal repression of anti-government protests.

“Any decision to postpone the summit would have constituted a victory for the Syrian regime. However, the regime realized that managing Lebanese affairs from Damascus has become history,” the sources said.

They added that Assad has begun to understand that Aoun is not former President Emile Lahoud, and therefore, the Damascus regime no longer has its tools to taking decisions inside Lebanon.

“In other terms, Assad was not pleased when Aoun gave the AL a green light to kick off administrative and logistic preparations for the summit despite the absence of Syria,” the sources explained.

Lebanon’s caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, who is Aoun's son-in-law, called on Friday for the League to readmit Syria.

Bassil was speaking at a joint press conference with Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit at the Phoenicia Hotel following the opening session of the meeting by the Arab Foreign Ministers and members of the Economic and Social Council in preparation for Sunday’s summit.

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