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UAE reopens embassy in Syrian capital closed in 2011

The United Arab Emirates reopened its embassy in Syria's capital on Thursday for the first time in seven years

Dec 29

10:53
2018

The United Arab Emirates reopened its embassy in Syria's capital on Thursday for the first time in seven years, a reflection of improved relations between President Bashar Assad and some of his Arab foes as the war winds down.

On Thursday afternoon, UAE's charge d'affaires Abdul-Hakim Naimi visited the embassy and witnessed his country's flag being raised again on the compound in central Damascus.

UAE's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that "the step confirms that the UAE government is keen to restore relations between the two brotherly countries back to normal."

It added that the move is "to activate the Arab role in supporting Syria's independence, sovereignty, unity and safety and prevent the dangers of regional intervention in Syria's Arab affairs." "The opening of our embassy is a first step for the return of other Arab embassies," Naimi told reporters outside the compound.

The United Arab Emirates was a supporter of the Syrian opposition, which is now largely confined to the northern Idlib province after losing its strongholds elsewhere. Some opposition fighters have joined Turkey for an expected assault on Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria.

The UAE and other Gulf Arab supporters of the Syrian opposition view Turkey with suspicion because of its embrace of regional Islamists. In October, Assad told reporters that Syria had reached a "major understanding" with Arab states after years of hostility.

He did not name the Arab countries in the interview, which was his first with a Gulf paper since the war erupted, but said Arab and Western delegations had begun visiting Syria to prepare for the reopening of diplomatic and other missions.

Anwar Gargash, who is No. 2 at UAE's Foreign Ministry, tweeted that an Arab role in Syria is necessary now to face Iran and Turkey's intervention.

He added that UAE through its presence in Damascus is trying to activate the Arab role in what would "contribute to ending war and strengthening opportunities for peace and stability for the Syrian people." The UAE recalled its ambassador from Syria in 2011 after the start of the popular uprising against Assad.

The Syrian Embassy in the UAE remained open. There are also direct flights on Syria's national carrier to Dubai and between the port city of Latakia and the emirate of Sharjah.