Published: Mon, December 31, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

UAE reopens Syria embassy, a boost for Assad

UAE reopens Syria embassy, a boost for Assad

The United Arab Emirates will reopen its embassy in Damascus Thursday, an official said, seven years after it severed ties with Syria over the violent repression that triggered the war.

Bahrain's embassy in Damascus and the Syrian diplomatic mission in Manama have been operating "without interruption" the Bahraini foreign ministry said in a statement today, a day after the UAE reopened its embassy in Syria.

Abdul-Hakim Naimi, the UAE's charge d'affaires, visited the site in Damascus and told journalists: "The opening of our embassy is the first step for the return of other Arab embassies".

Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, visited Damascus this week, in a move seen as a show of support for the Assad regime from Saudia Arabia, considered one of Khartoum's closest allies.

In October, Bahrain's foreign minister embraced his Syrian counterpart at the United Nations which, although described by officials as an "unplanned" meeting, was perceived by many as an attempt to re-engage with Syria after years of regional isolation.

- On December 27, Bahrain announces in a statement that it plans to follow suit and a Syrian airline organizes its first direct flight to Tunis since the war broke out.

- The Beirut summit could act as a test run for the Arab League summit to be held in March 2019 in Tunis. The same minister of the Emirates Gargash makes clear that there must be the "unanimous" consent of the entire Arab world on the possible return of Syria, while there are still three countries that oppose it.

Tehran has been a staunch supporter of Assad's government and has expanded its military footprint in Syria throughout the course of the conflict.

In recent years, however, the Syrian army has won a series of key military victories with the help of Russian Federation and Iran.

Arms, training and funds from Arab states were funnelled to Syrian rebels through a programme overseen by the Central Intelligence Agency until U.S. President Donald Trump ordered it shut down a year ago. That is when the State Department announced that Saudi Arabia had committed $100 million to a fund to stabilize areas of Syria liberated from ISIS terrorists by a US -led coalition. However, U.S. support for the rebels appears to be largely over in the wake of President Trump's announcement last week that he is pulling out all U.S. troops from Syria.

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