Syria’s Ongoing Reestablishment in the Arab World Underway
March 21, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—In its coverage of Bashar al-Assad’s March 19 visit to the United Arab Emirates, Al-Monitor reported yesterday that discussions on bringing Syria back into the Arab League are gaining momentum, as is consideration of ways to bring more economic aid into the country. Notable is that Assad was accompanied by his wife, Asma al-Assad, which was considered significant enough by SANA to warrant separate coverage of her discussions.
Bassam Barabandi, a former Syrian diplomat, told Al-Monitor that the main purpose of the visit is to facilitate humanitarian aid to the country, possibly to be included in initiatives by the first ladies’ offices. In February, following the earthquakes in Syria and Turkiye, the U.A.E. pledged one of the largest sums of any single nation to help Syria at $100 million. “This [humanitarian] file has witnessed a great development since mid-February, through the activation of direct coordination channels,” Barabandi said.
“Abu Dhabi will likely present a package of proposals related to the possibility of providing the necessary economic support to the Syrian side in the event that a number of conditions are met,” Barabandi continued. “Foremost of which is taking serious measures related to containing the national security threats to neighboring countries, including Turkiye and Jordan.”
Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a professor of political science at New York University-Abu Dhabi, told Agence France-Presse that the time has come to reconcile with Assad and see Syria return to the Arab League. “The U.A.E. is spearheading efforts to reconcile with enemies of the past and transform them into the friends of tomorrow,” he said. The Emirates reinstated its embassy in Iran last August after years of political standoff. What China’s role might be in all of this is not indicated.
The presence of Turkish troops in northern Syria is another issue that the U.A.E. is helping mediate with Assad, according to Barabandi. “The Emirati side will present an initiative to bring views closer to the Turkish side, with the aim of accelerating negotiations by putting pressure on Assad to reduce his list of conditions,” he said, without indicating whether concessions will also be sought from the Turkish side.