UAE flag raised over reopened embassy in Damascus

Larry Hoffman
December 31, 2018

The United Arab Emirates reopened its embassy in Syria's capital on Thursday for the first time in seven years, a reflection of improved relations between President Bashar Assad and some of his Arab foes as the war winds down.

In private statements to Al Arabiya, Gargash stressed that everyone is convinced that there is a political path to resolve the Syrian crisis.

Iraqi Ambassador Saad Muhammad Rida told reporters upon leaving the opening ceremony that the raising of the UAE flag and the opening of the embassy in Damascus is an invitation to all Arab countries to return to Damascus.

Syria's allied in the Gulf are reportedly working bring Damascus back into the Arab League, over eight years after the country was kicked out for its brutal response to peaceful demonstrations. Almost seven years later, the Emirati flag was raised again during a ceremony attended by diplomats and journalists.

The Arab League also welcomed al-Assad back after booting him in 2011 for his treatment of war protesters.

In October, Assad told a little-known Kuwaiti newspaper that Syria had reached a "major understanding" with Arab states after years of hostility.

An Emirati flag flies during the reopening of the United Arab Emirates embassy in Damascus Syria
Image Dubai wants to counter what it sees as Iran's growing influence in the region

Ali Mamluk, Syria's intelligence chief and a key figure in the Assad regime, travelled to Egypt last week on an official visit. However, Arab countries had also sanctioned Damascus and criticized its use of military forces against the opposition.

Air flights between the two countries, it added, were also soon set to resume.

It is not yet clear if more Arab countries, several of which were accused by Assad of once supporting jihadists and rebels, will follow in the UAE's footsteps.

Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa attends the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Kuwait.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia are leading regional efforts to counter what they see as Iran's growing influence in the region.

The diplomatic thaw comes after the US announced plans to pull its troops from Syria.

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