President Bashar al-Assad of Syria traveled to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday for an official go to accompanied by his spouse, an indication of the rising momentum with which he’s returning to the worldwide stage after a decade-long isolation.
Considered as a pariah in lots of elements of the world for overseeing the bombing and torturing of his individuals when a 2011 rebellion devolved right into a civil warfare, Mr. al-Assad was welcomed in Abu Dhabi, the Emirati capital, on Sunday with a 21-gun salute, in accordance with a report revealed by the official Emirates Information Company.
He was obtained by a delegation that included the Emirati ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, and the 2 mentioned the “brotherly relations” between their international locations, the company mentioned. Sheikh Mohammed additionally provided condolences for the victims of the deadly earthquake that struck Syria and Turkey last month, and expressed confidence that Syria would overcome the disaster and “transfer into a brand new period.”
The journey got here days after Mr. al-Assad traveled to Moscow to meet with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, and virtually precisely a yr for the reason that Syrian chief’s final go to to the United Arab Emirates, which was his first reception by an Arab nation for the reason that Syrian civil warfare started.
On the time, a State Division spokesman, Ned Worth, mentioned that Washington was “profoundly disillusioned and troubled by this obvious try to legitimize Bashar al-Assad, who stays accountable and accountable for the loss of life 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, ladies and youngsters.”
But Mr. al-Assad’s normalization within the Center East has solely gained traction since then as different Arab leaders grapple with the truth that he stays, evidently, right here to remain.
“For the Emirates and different Arab international locations, it’s a recognition of the brand new actuality of Syria, that means that it may well not be eradicated,” Mahdi Dakhlallah, a Syrian Baath Occasion politician and diplomat, mentioned by phone from Damascus.
The earthquake final month, which killed greater than 50,000 individuals in Turkey and Syria, lifted Mr. al-Assad into the softer light of disaster diplomacy, permitting him to edge additional towards cementing his place within the area. After the earthquake, he met with a number of Arab officers, together with the Emirati, Egyptian and Jordanian international ministers, who traveled to Damascus to supply their condolences. The United Arab Emirates pledged $100 million in assist.
Sunday was the primary time in years that Mr. al-Assad’s spouse, Asma al-Assad, had appeared with him in an official go to. A Twitter account for the Syrian presidency shared photographs of her in a white suit, smiling and chatting with the Emirati delegation.
The United Arab Emirates is a small, oil-rich Persian Gulf nation with outsize international affect the place officers are eager to keep up relations with competing powers, together with the USA, China, Russia and Iran. It has led the best way amongst Arab international locations in re-establishing ties with Mr. al-Assad’s authorities and reopened its embassy in Syria in 2018.
The go to to Abu Dhabi is “an affirmation of Syria’s restoration of its function,” Mr. Dakhlallah mentioned. “It’s nonetheless within the early steps, however it has begun.”
Saudi Arabia, the regional political heavyweight, has but to comply with swimsuit. When the rebellion started, the dominion initially supported rebel groups combating towards Mr. al-Assad’s authorities forces. However when the earthquake struck, the dominion despatched planes crammed with assist to each Syrian government-controlled and opposition-controlled territories.
At a convention in Germany final month, Saudi Arabia’s international minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, acknowledged that Arab international locations had reached an “deadlock” with the Syrian authorities and that the stalemate was doing little to alleviate the struggling of Syrians in Syria or overseas.
“There’s a consensus throughout the Arab world that the established order is just not working and that we have to discover another method,” he mentioned. “What that method is, it’s nonetheless being formulated.”
Ahmed Al Omran contributed reporting.