World

Assad Visits U.A.E. in Latest Sign of Re-engagement

DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, was within the United Arab Emirates on Friday, his workplace mentioned, his first go to to an Arab nation since Syria’s civil warfare erupted in 2011.

In a press release posted on its social media pages, Mr. Assad’s workplace mentioned he had met with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the Emirates’ vice chairman and prime minister, who can be the ruler of Dubai. The 2 mentioned increasing bilateral relations between Syria and the Emirates, it mentioned.

The go to sends the clearest sign but that the Arab world is keen to re-engage with Syria’s extensively shunned president. It comes towards the backdrop of the warfare in Ukraine, the place Mr. Assad’s most important ally, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, is urgent on with a army offensive, now in its fourth week. Syria has supported Russia’s invasion, accusing the West of getting provoked it.

Syria was expelled from the 22-member Arab League and boycotted by its neighbors after its civil warfare broke out 11 years in the past. A whole bunch of hundreds of individuals have been killed within the warfare, which displaced half of Syria’s inhabitants. Massive components of the nation have been destroyed, and reconstruction would value tens of billions of {dollars}.

Arab and Western nations usually blamed Mr. Assad’s lethal crackdown on 2011 protests for setting off the warfare, and so they supported the opposition within the early days of the battle.

Requested about Mr. Assad’s go to to the Emirates, a State Division spokesman, Ned Value, mentioned Washington was “profoundly upset and troubled by this obvious try to legitimize Bashar al-Assad, who stays accountable and accountable for the dying and struggling of numerous Syrians, the displacement of greater than half of the prewar Syrian inhabitants and the arbitrary detention and disappearance of over 150,000 Syrian males, girls and kids.”

Mr. Assad has very hardly ever traveled outdoors Syria through the warfare, visiting solely Russia and Iran. Tehran has given the Syrian authorities billions of {dollars} in help and despatched Iran-backed fighters to battle alongside his forces — help that, together with Russian air energy, helped flip the tide in Mr. Assad’s favor.

With the warfare having fallen right into a stalemate and Mr. Assad recovering management over a lot of the nation, Arab nations have inched towards restoring ties with the Syrian chief in recent times.

The Emirates reopened its embassy in Syria in late 2018 in essentially the most important Arab overture towards the Assad authorities, although relations remained chilly. Final fall, the Emirati international minister flew to Damascus for a gathering with Mr. Assad, the primary go to by the nation’s high diplomat since 2011. The USA, an in depth associate of the Emirates, criticized the go to on the time, saying it will not help any normalization of relations with Mr. Assad’s authorities.

A key motive for the overtures by Sunni Muslim nations within the Persian Gulf is to blunt the involvement of their Shiite-led foe, Iran, whose affect expanded quickly within the chaos of Syria’s warfare.

The rapprochement, nevertheless, may serve each side.

Syria badly wants to enhance relations with oil-rich nations as its economic system is strangled by crippling Western sanctions and because it faces the duty of postwar reconstruction. The Emirates can be dwelling to hundreds of Syrians who work there and ship cash to their family at dwelling.

The Emirates’ state-run WAM information company mentioned the nation’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, had welcomed Mr. Assad at his palace in Abu Dhabi.

On the assembly, the crown prince expressed his hope that “this go to could be the start of peace and stability for Syria and all the area,” in line with the report. Mr. Assad was reported to have left the Emirates from Abu Dhabi in a while Friday.

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