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Angered by Syria's return to Arab fold, US extends 'national emergency' on Damascus

US President Joe Biden has extended for another year the national emergency declared with respect to Syria as Washington fumes over Damascus’s return to the Arab League after more than a decade.

In a press release on Monday, the White House said Biden took the measure “to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States constituted by [Syria].”

“I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency declared with respect to the actions of the government of Syria,” the White House quoted the US president as saying.

In May 2004, then-President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13338, which classified the Syrian government’s conduct as a national emergency. Successive presidents extended the classification each year, citing false excuses.

Under Biden’s decision, the US national emergency on Syria will remain in effect until May 2024.

The development came one day after the Arab League, a 22-member intergovernmental organization of Arab states, agreed to welcome Syria back into the fold.

It means Syria can resume its participation in Arab League meetings, consolidating a regional push to normalize ties with the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Meanwhile, the US has already voiced its anger over Syria’s return to the Arab League. “We do not believe that Syria merits readmission to the Arab League at this time, and it’s a point that we’ve made clear with all of our partners,” US State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said.

Since March 2011, Syria has been gripped by a campaign of militancy and destruction supported by the US and its allies.

In recent years, however, Syrian government forces, backed by Russia and Iran, have managed to win back control of almost all of the country’s areas from terrorist groups.

The US military has stationed its forces and equipment in northeastern Syria, sponsoring Daesh terrorists and plundering the country’s natural resources. Washington has also imposed sweeping economic sanctions on Syria.

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