• Tuesday, Sep 29, 2020
  • Last Update : 12:50 am

UAE reopens Syria embassy in boost for Assad

  • Published at 09:16 am December 28th, 2018
WEB- Asad
A man works on the emblem of the United Arab Emirates embassy in Damascus during its reopening, Syria December 27, 2018 REUTERS

The reopening of the embassy is a step towards Syria’s rehabilitation by its Arab peers

The United Arab Emirates reopened its embassy in Damascus on Thursday, marking a diplomatic boost for President Bashar al-Assad from a US-allied Arab state that once backed rebels fighting him.

The UAE said the move aimed to normalize ties and to curb risks of regional interference in “Arab, Syrian affairs” - an apparent reference to non-Arab Iran, whose support for Assad has been critical to his war effort. The UAE said the move aimed to normalize ties and to curb risks of regional interference in “Arab, Syrian affairs” - an apparent reference to non-Arab Iran, whose support for Assad has been critical to his war effort.

“The UAE decision ... came after a conviction that the next stage requires the Arab presence and communication in the Syrian file,” tweeted Anwar Gargash, the UAE minister of state for foreign affairs.

The reopening of the embassy is a step towards Syria’s rehabilitation by its Arab peers. Its membership in the Arab League was suspended seven years ago. Gargash told Al Arabiya TV that its readmission would require Arab consensus.

The UAE flag was raised at the embassy, shut since the early months of Syria’s conflict nearly eight years ago. The UAE Foreign Ministry said its charge d’affaires assumed his duties on Thursday.

Robert Ford, who was serving as the US ambassador to Syria when the uprising against Assad erupted in 2011, said the UAE embassy re-opening indicated that the Sunni Muslim Gulf monarchy seeks to re-exert influence in Syria to blunt that of its Shiite-led foe, Iran.

“I think they are hoping that over time that by financial and diplomatic re-engagement with Damascus, they can reduce Iranian influence,” said Ford, now a fellow with the Middle East Institute think tank who also teaches at Yale University.

Ford noted that the UAE has a “vibrant private sector” that is far better resourced than Iran to participate in the massive reconstruction effort that Syria requires.

The UAE was one of several regional states to back armed groups opposed to Assad, though its role was less prominent than those of Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Turkey, rebel sources in the region have said. Emirati support has been associated with groups opposed to Islamist domination of the uprising.

Nearly eight years into the war, Assad has recovered control of most of Syria with support from Russia, Iran, and Iranian-backed Shi’ite Muslim groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

His military advances gathered pace this year with the defeat of the last big rebel enclaves near Damascus and recovery of the southwestern region.

Earlier this month, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir became the first Arab head of state to visit Damascus since the start of the Syrian conflict, flying into Damascus airport.

The border crossing between Syria and Jordan, another US ally that backed the rebels, was reopened in October. A Syrian passenger flight flew to Tunisia on Thursday for the first time in nearly eight years.

An Arab diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters last week he believed most Arab states wanted Syria to be readmitted to the Arab League, with only three or four states expected to oppose it.

Arms, training and funds from Arab states were funneled to Syrian rebels through a program overseen by the CIA until US President Donald Trump ordered it shut down last year. In another potential lift for Assad, Trump also last week decided to withdraw US forces deployed in northern and eastern Syria in support of Kurdish-led militia.

The U.S State Department has not commented on the UAE’s move.

But Ford believes that Washington “probably just acquiesced” as the Trump administration is “more and more just washing its hands of Syria.”

The anti-Assad insurgents’ last foothold is an arc of northwestern territory abutting Turkey, which still supports them.

Assad has vowed to recapture control of the entire country.

50
50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail