Assad Visits U.A.E. in Latest Sign of Re-engagement

Assad Visits U.A.E. in Newest Signal of Re-engagement

DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, was within the United Arab Emirates on Friday, his workplace stated, his first go to to an Arab nation since Syria’s civil conflict erupted in 2011.

In a press release posted on its social media pages, Mr. Assad’s workplace stated he had met with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the Emirates’ vp and prime minister, who can be the ruler of Dubai. The 2 mentioned increasing bilateral relations between Syria and the Emirates, it stated.

The go to sends the clearest sign but that the Arab world is willing to re-engage with Syria’s extensively shunned president. It comes against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, the place Mr. Assad’s essential ally, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, is urgent on with a army offensive, now in its fourth week. Syria has supported Russia’s invasion, accusing the West of getting provoked it.

Syria was expelled from the 22-member Arab League and boycotted by its neighbors after its civil conflict broke out 11 years in the past. A whole bunch of 1000’s of individuals have been killed within the conflict, which displaced half of Syria’s inhabitants. Massive components of the nation have been destroyed, and reconstruction would value tens of billions of {dollars}.

Arab and Western international locations typically blamed Mr. Assad’s lethal crackdown on 2011 protests for setting off the conflict, and so they supported the opposition within the early days of the battle.

Requested about Mr. Assad’s go to to the Emirates, a State Division spokesman, Ned Worth, stated Washington was “profoundly dissatisfied and troubled by this obvious try to legitimize Bashar al-Assad, who stays accountable and accountable for the dying and struggling of numerous Syrians, the displacement of greater than half of the prewar Syrian inhabitants and the arbitrary detention and disappearance of over 150,000 Syrian males, girls and kids.”

Mr. Assad has very not often traveled exterior Syria in the course of the conflict, visiting solely Russia and Iran. Tehran has given the Syrian authorities billions of {dollars} in assist and despatched Iran-backed fighters to battle alongside his forces — help that, together with Russian air energy, helped flip the tide in Mr. Assad’s favor.

With the conflict having fallen right into a stalemate and Mr. Assad recovering management over a lot of the nation, Arab international locations have inched towards restoring ties with the Syrian chief in recent times.

The Emirates reopened its embassy in Syria in late 2018 in probably the most vital Arab overture towards the Assad authorities, although relations remained chilly. Final fall, the Emirati overseas minister flew to Damascus for a gathering with Mr. Assad, the primary go to by the nation’s high diplomat since 2011. America, an in depth accomplice of the Emirates, criticized the go to on the time, saying it will not help any normalization of relations with Mr. Assad’s authorities.

A key motive for the overtures by Sunni Muslim international locations within the Persian Gulf is to blunt the involvement of their Shiite-led foe, Iran, whose affect expanded quickly within the chaos of Syria’s conflict.

The rapprochement, nonetheless, may serve each side.

Syria badly wants to enhance relations with oil-rich international locations as its financial system is strangled by crippling Western sanctions and because it faces the duty of postwar reconstruction. The Emirates can be house to 1000’s of Syrians who work there and ship cash to their kin at house.

The Emirates’ state-run WAM information company stated the nation’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, had welcomed Mr. Assad at his palace in Abu Dhabi.

On the assembly, the crown prince expressed his hope that “this go to could be the start of peace and stability for Syria and your entire area,” in line with the report. Mr. Assad was reported to have left the Emirates from Abu Dhabi in a while Friday.

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