UAE 'to reopen Syria embassy' as Gulf states warm up to Assad

UAE 'to reopen Syria embassy' as Gulf states warm up to Assad
The UAE is negotiating the return of its ambassador to Damascus, after the embassy was closed six years ago, Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported on Monday.
2 min read
13 November, 2018
Assad said last month that Syria has reached a "major understanding" with Arab states [Getty]
The UAE is negotiating the reopening of its embassy in Syria and return of its ambassdor to Damascus, six years after the mission was closed due to the country's bloody war, Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported on Monday.

A source in Damascus told the outlet that Emirati officials have been meeting with the Syrian regime to restore its diplomatic mission in the capital, in a sign of Abu Dhabi's warming relations with Bashar al-Assad's regime.

According to the source, an Emirati diplomat is already based permanently in Damascus, while other officials make regular visits to the Syrian capital.

The report added that barbed-wire and concrete barriers have been removed from the UAE's embassy and that Egyptian officials are also involved in the negotiations.

The report comes days after pro-regime Al-Masdar News  reported that Saudi Arabia was communicating with Syrian authorities through the UAE to reconcile.

The outlet said the first step towards reconciliation would be the reopening of the UAE embassy in Damascus, citing a source in Damascus.

With the exception of Oman, Gulf states closed their missions in Syria after the outbreak of the conflict in 2011, when Assad's forces gunned down peaceful protesters.

Some of the Gulf states have supported factions of the Syrian opposition during the seven-year conflict, providing arms to various rebel groups in an attempt to counter Iranian support for the Syrian regime.

Recent developments have indicated that the Gulf states are now reaching out to reconcile with the Assad regime.

Last month, Assad told a Kuwaiti newspaper that Syria has reached a "major understanding" with Arab states after years of hostility.

He said Arab and Western delegations have started visiting Syria to prepare for the reopening of diplomatic missions.

The interview came on the heels of a surprisingly warm encounter between Syria's foreign minister, Walid al-Muallem, and his Bahraini counterpart, Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

The encounter raised questions as to whether certain Gulf countries - most of them sworn enemies of Assad's ally Iran - are reconsidering their relations with Damascus as the war winds down.