Bashar al-Assad is meeting the leaders of Abu Dhabi and Dubai in his first visit to an Arab state since the start of the war in Syria.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met with Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in Dubai, the Syrian Presidency said in a statement, during his first visit to an Arab state since the start of the Syrian war. in 2011.
Assad also met with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, state news agencies of the United Arab Emirates and Syria reported on Friday.
The meeting comes days after the 11th anniversary of the start of the uprising in Syria, which ultimately failed to topple al-Assad.
The meeting between Assad and Al Maktoum “focused on the overall relations between the two countries and the prospects for expanding the circle of bilateral cooperation, particularly at the economic, investment and trade levels”, the agency reported. Syrian official press SANA.
WAM, a UAE news agency, reported that the two leaders discussed “issues of common interest”, such as Syria’s territorial integrity and the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country.
The visit sends the clearest signal yet that some countries in the Arab world are ready to reconnect with the once largely shunned Syrian president. Several Arab countries are reconnecting with Assad, including Jordan and Lebanon, which have urged the United States to ease sanctions on Damascus to boost trade.
Syria was expelled from the 22-member Arab League and boycotted by its neighbors after the conflict broke out 11 years ago. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the war, which has displaced half of Syria’s population. Large parts of Syria have been destroyed and reconstruction would cost tens of billions of dollars.
Arab and Western countries have generally blamed al-Assad for the deadly crackdown on protests in 2011 that escalated into a civil war and backed the opposition early in the conflict.
Syria’s Assad government has also been accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity by human rights organizations.
However, with the war deadlocked and Assad regaining control of most of the country with military aid from allies Russia and Iran, a number of Arab countries have moved closer to restoring ties. with Assad in recent years.
One of the main motives of some Arab Gulf countries, such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, is to blunt the involvement of their enemy, Iran, which has seen its influence expand rapidly in the chaos of the war in Syria.
The UAE in particular has tried to reach out to Assad, with UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed visiting the Syrian president in Damascus in November, the first Emirati official to visit since 2011.