Spotlight: Reopening of UAE, Bahrain embassies in Damascus signals mending of Syrian-Arab relations

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-29 05:28:36|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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by Marwa Yahya

CAIRO, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- Bahrain said on Friday it will resume operations at its embassy in Syria about seven years after it shuttered its embassy in Damascus.

In a Foreign Ministry statement, Bahrain affirmed the importance of continued relations with Syria, emphasizing "the Arab role" in preserving Syria's independence and preventing dangerous regional intervention in its affairs.

On Thursday, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has reopened its embassy in Damascus and raised the country's flag.

"The moves are considered major steps toward welcoming Syria back into the fold of Arab countries," said Tariq Fahmy, professor of political sciences with American University in Cairo.

Syria was suspended from the Arab League (AL) shortly after the Syrian war broke out in 2011 and most Arab states closed their embassies in Damascus in protest against President Bashar Assad for his crackdown on the opposition.

Oman is the only Gulf Arab country to have kept its embassy in Damascus open throughout the civil war.

"However, it has becoming increasingly clear now that Assad is likely to stay in power. His regime is stable and could face any intervention," Fahmy told Xinhua.

The reopening of the embassies in the Syrian capital is the most significant public step to welcome Assad in the Arab world, the expert added.

"This move will prevent the dangers of regional interference in the Syrian affairs," the UAE Foreign Ministry said in reference to Iran's role in Syria, which is considered a major enemy by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies.

Fahmy reiterated the move was not a surprise especially after recent efforts exerted by the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to keep regional problems within the Arab hands to avoid more intervention in Arab affairs.

He explained Egypt and UAE had grown skeptical about overthrowing Assad who stood firm against the spread of their shared Islamist enemies.

The Gulf states also feel worried about the infiltration of Islamic States remnants to its lands, the professor added.

"Arab countries are more open to restore ties with Syria," Iqram Bader, professor of international relation with Cairo University.

On Thursday, a passenger flight flew to Tunisia for the first time in nearly six years, with 150 Syrian tourists on board.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir earlier this month was the first Arab leader to travel to Damascus since 2011.

Syrian state media said earlier this week that Major General Ali Mamlouk, one of Assad's top security officials, has visited Cairo to discuss terrorism issues with his Egyptian counterpart.

In October, the Nassib border crossing between Jordan and Syria opened to people and goods after being closed for three years.

There is also increasing momentum for Syria to be readmitted into AL. Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, AL's chairman, said that Syrian's suspension had been "hasty" earlier this year.

"The AL's 2011 decision coped with the conditions at that time, and took the side of people rather than the leaders," Bader said, adding that the Arab uprisings carried noble plans of democracy and human rights.

Meanwhile, after longs years of sufferings, the Arab leaders fed up with international intervention and feared the repetition of the Iraqi scenario, Bader added.

Syria was an institutional country in the AL and its absence had negatively affected the work of the organization, he added.

Atef Seadawy, researcher with Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said Syria will restore its seat in the pan-Arab organization before March.

The next summit of the AL will take place in Tunisia in March.

He expected Jordan to follow the path of UAE and Bahrain.

The Russian-Syrian consensus and joint military actions paved the road for the diplomacy to resettle stability and peace in Syria and the region, Seadawy said.

He said some international and regional forces will be obstacles for political solution to take place in Syria, but the U.S. recent withdrawal from Syria meant better understanding and coordination with Russia.

He said the Russian presence in the region for the Arab and Gulf countries is good as it has limited the influence and intervention of Iran and Turkey.