Syria: UAE foreign minister meets Bashar al-Assad in Damascus

By Ibrahim al-Khazin


ABU DHABI, UAE (AA): The foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Tuesday met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the capital Damascus, in the first high-level visit from the Gulf country since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

The Syrian regime news agency SANA reported that al-Assad received Abdullah bin Zayed, who was accompanied by Emirati Minister of State Khalifa Shaheen, and head of Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Ports Security, Ali Al-Shamsi.

The meeting “dealt with bilateral relations between the two brotherly countries and the development of bilateral cooperation in various fields of common interest,” SANA said.

According to SANA, al-Assad spoke of “close brotherly relations” with the UAE and what he called “objective and correct stances adopted by the UAE, stressing that it has always stood by the Syrian people.”

Bin Zayed, for his part, affirmed his country’s support for efforts aimed at achieving stability in Syria.

This is the first official visit by a high-level Emirati official to Syria since the outbreak of the civil war in the country in March 2011.

On Dec. 27, 2018, the Gulf state reopened its embassy in Damascus, after seven years of closure at the level of charge d’affairs.

In June 2020, the administration of then US President Donald Trump warned Abu Dhabi of the repercussions of the continued normalization of its relations with the Syrian regime, and the possibility of facing sanctions under the Caesar Act, which targets everyone who deals with the Assad regime.

Since July, Arab normalization steps with the Syrian regime have accelerated, especially by Jordan, the UAE and Egypt, represented by mutual meetings, agreements and economic understandings.

The next Arab League summit in Algeria in March is expected to discuss restoring the membership of Syria, which has been frozen since 2011 due to the violence of the Assad regime against its people.

In March 2011, popular protests erupted in Syria, calling for the start of a peaceful transfer of power, but the Assad regime chose to suppress it militarily, which pushed the country into a devastating civil war.

* Writing by Mahmoud Barakat

[Photo: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) meets Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates, Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan (L) in Damascus, Syria on November 09, 2021. Photograph by UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs/AA]

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