Assad’s UAE trip signals end of Syria’s isolation

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sunday, his first trip to an Arab state since the Syrian war began in 2011, underlining warming ties with a U.S.-allied country that once backed rebels who sought his ouster.

Assad was accompanied by his wife Asma and a delegation of Syrian officials. He was received by UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the royal palace in Abu Dhabi, where he received a canon salute and was greeted by Emirati fighter jets.

The two leaders held constructive talks aimed at developing relations between their countries, according to statements from both sides. They also discussed regional and international issues of common interest, including the situation in Syria and ways to enhance stability and security in the Middle East.

The visit comes as more Arab states have signaled openness to easing the isolation of Damascus, which has been under U.S. and European sanctions for its brutal crackdown on protesters and civilians during the war.

The UAE, a major oil producer and regional power, has led a shift in the Middle East towards reviving ties with Assad, who has regained control over most of Syria with the help of Russia and Iran. The UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus in 2018 and has sent humanitarian aid to Syria after a devastating earthquake hit Turkey and Syria last month.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, which have supported various rebel factions against Assad, have also shown signs of rapprochement with Damascus recently. Saudi Arabia opened dialogue with Iran, Assad’s main ally, while Qatar hosted Syrian officials for talks on humanitarian issues. Turkey, which hosts millions of Syrian refugees, has expressed willingness to cooperate with Syria on border security.

Assad’s visit to the UAE follows his trips to Oman last month and Russia earlier this month, where he met with his main backers Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said and President Vladimir Putin respectively.

Syria hopes that the regional reconciliation will unlock funds for reconstruction after 12 years of war that have left much of the country in ruins.


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