Bahrain resumes work at embassy in Damascus

UAE embassy

UAE embassy

The reopening of the United Arab Emirates embassy in Damascus is the most visible step so far of efforts to return Syria to the diplomatic arena.

With the exception of Oman, Gulf states closed their missions in Syria after the outbreak of the conflict in 2011, when President Bashar al-Assad's forces gunned down peaceful protesters.

Local reports also spoke about the visit of a delegation of UAE businessmen to Syria and the reopening of the embassy.

The Iraqi ambassador, Saad Muhammad Rida, told reporters upon leaving the opening ceremony that the raising of the UAE flag and the opening of the embassy in Damascus is an invitation to all Arab countries to return to Damascus.

Citing a source in the Syrian foreign ministry, Russian state media also said the UAE will officially open its mission in the country on Thursday afternoon.

"The Arab role in Syria has become more necessary to counter Iran and Turkey's hold on the region", tweeted UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash.

Other Persian Gulf Arab states are expected to shift their positions and normalize ties with Assad's government. Sudan's president, Omar Bashir, visited Damascus earlier this month, becoming the first Arab head of state to visit Syria since the start of the war.

Syria was suspended from the Arab League in November 2011, as the death toll was escalating and several regional powers bet on Assad's demise.

Ali Mamluk, Syria's intelligence chief and a key figure in the Assad regime, travelled to Egypt last week on an official visit.

After Ankara threatened to take over YPG-led territories across its border, Washington chose to pull out its troops from the country, leaving Syria predominantly under Russian domination.

Mauritania's Arabic-language el-Jewahir daily newspaper, citing informed sources, reported on Friday that 62-year-old Abdel Aziz has made a decision to accept his Syrian counterpart's invitation, and travel to Syria in the first week of next month.

But it's not clear that how much the Gulf's renewed Arab presence can change Damascus's relationship with Iran, which has always been allied with Syria since the early 1980s on various fronts. The president had long called on other coalition members to pitch in more money.

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