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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Assad’s UAE visit aims to boost aid route, Syria return to Arab League

Dubai – President of Syria Bashar al-Assad arrives in Abu Dhabi On Sunday, he made his second official visit to the United Arab Emirates. Discussions are gaining momentum about returning Syria to the Arab League, along with how to provide more economic aid to the country.

Assad arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, his second visit to the oil-rich country, and received a grand welcome. Fighter jets escorted the Syrian delegation into UAE airspace and were greeted on the tarmac by the country’s President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed. Syria’s First Lady Asma al-Assad was personally welcomed by UAE First Lady Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak in a rare public appearance.

The visit comes at the height of Arab re-engagement with Assad after years of political isolation and efforts to bring Syria back to the Arab League. It was ousted in 2011 after Assad brutally suppressed an uprising. Assad’s visit to the UAE follows his visit to Russia last week and Oman last month.

Assad was received by UAE National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Suhail Welcome by bin Mohammad Mazrouei, Minister of Economy Abdullah bin Touk Al Mali and others. Members of the delegation on Syria include Samir Khalil, Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade of Syria, Deputy Foreign Minister of Syria Ayman Sowsan et al.

Bassam Barabandi, a former Syrian diplomat, told Al-Monitor that the main purpose of the visit was to boost humanitarian aid to the country and could be included in the initiative of the first lady’s office.

In February, the UAE pledged $100 million in aid following earthquakes in Syria and Turkey, one of the largest sums of any single country.

“this [humanitarian] The document has evolved considerably since mid-February through the activation of the direct coordination channel,” Barabandi said.

He added that the presence of Samer Khalil, the Syrian Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade, in the delegation indicated the importance of the economic aspect of the visit and plans to take advantage of the agreement between the two countries to promote UAE investment in the local market.

“Abu Dhabi may come up with a package proposal concerning the possibility of providing the necessary economic support to the Syrian side if some conditions are met,” the former Syrian diplomat told Al-Monitor. “Foremost among these are drastic measures to curb national security threats to neighboring countries, including Turkey and Jordan.”

It is time to reconcile with Assad and see Syria return to the Arab League, Abdul Khalik Abdullah, a political science professor at New York University Abu Dhabi, told AFP.

“The UAE is leading efforts to reconcile enemies of the past and turn them into friends of tomorrow,” he said. The UAE restored its embassy in Iran last August after years of political stalemate.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who supports Assad, told his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud, that Syria should be allowed to return to the Arab coalition during their operation. meeting in moscow earlier this month. Faisal responded that normalization with Assad was premature.

According to Balabandi, the presence of Turkish troops in northern Syria is another issue that the UAE helped mediate with Assad. Turkey has been the biggest military and political ally of the Syrian opposition, which controls the last rebel stronghold in northwestern Syria, with dozens of bases and thousands of soldiers.

Assad said he would meet with Turkey’s foreign minister to discuss it only when Turkey is ready to fully withdraw its troops and restore its regime’s sovereignty.

“The UAE side will present an initiative to bring the Turkish side closer together, with the aim of speeding up negotiations by putting pressure on Assad to reduce his condition list,” the former diplomat said.

The defense ministers of Syria and Turkey held high-level talks in late 2022, and Russia is working to resolve differences.

At one point during the uprising, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Assad a “terrorist” and said there could be no peace in Syria while he was in power.

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