Bahrain says work in Syria embassy 'continuing' after UAE move

Saul Bowman
December 30, 2018

The announcement came a day after the United Arab Emirates re-opened its embassy in Damascus after a seven-year closure due to the civil war there. The Charge d'Affaires of the Embassy has begun discharging his duty from Thursday.

Almost seven years since it was lowered, the UAE flag was raised again at its Damascus embassy during a ceremony attended by diplomats and journalists.

In 2011, the Kingdom of Bahrain closed its embassy in Damascus following the Syrian uprising and subsequent crackdown on protesters by the Bashar al-Assad regime. The meeting turned heads because it featured hugs between the two ministers.

Early in the civil war, Gulf Arab states supported the opposition seeking to oust Assad.

The past few days have seen a flurry of diplomatic activity that looks set to continue until the next summit of the Arab League, due in Tunis in March.

At the time analysts told Xinhua that the visit could be a prelude to restoring normal Arab relations with Syria.

The two leaders discussed bilateral ties and the "situations and crises faced by many Arab countries", the Syrian presidency said in a statement.

Syria was suspended from the Arab League in November 2011, as the death toll was escalating and several regional powers bet on Assad's demise.

During the brutal and long Iraq-Iran War in the 1980s, Syria was the only Arab country, supporting Tehran against Baghdad, a prominent Arab capital.

Other Gulf and Arab states are expected to shift their positions and normalize ties with Assad's government as concerns grow about Iran's influence in the region.

It marks a significant turnaround in relations given that Arab and Western powers repeatedly called for him to step down from power in response to the bloodshed in the country. Pro-government Syrian outlet Al Masdar News has suggested that Riyadh could be next.

Emad al-Nadaf, a Syrian political expert, told Xinhua that the resumption of the diplomatic relations between the UAE and Syria is an indication about the recovery of Syria, hoping that more countries would follow next.

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