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Syria’s president visits 1st Arab state in more than 1 decade

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (L) meets with Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum in Dubai, March 18, 2022. (Photo by SANA)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visits the United Arab Emirates in his first such visit to an Arab state since the beginning of foreign-backed violence in Syria.

Meeting with Assad on Friday, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahya "stressed that Syria is a fundamental pillar of Arab security,” the official Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

“The UAE is keen to strengthen cooperation with Syria,” the Emirati official added, describing the two nations as “brotherly peoples.”

Assad, for his part, urged that in order to protect the region, “we must continue with adherence to our principles, the sovereignty of our countries, and the interests of our peoples,” the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported.

Asssad’s visit to the UAE took place only months after the Emirates’ Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan traveled to the Syrian capital Damascus. It also came amid the widely-reported prospect of Damascus’ return to the Arab League regional grouping.

Commenting on the significance of the trip and its potential of reshaping the regional Arab relations, observers remind how almost all of the region’s Arab states turned their backs on Syria in 2014, when Damascus came to face a huge wave of foreign-backed militancy and terrorism. Some of the Arab regimes, including the UAE itself, even began lending financial and logistical support to the anti-Syria elements.

They attribute such signs of rapprochement between Syria and its fellow Arab states of the region to the Syrian government’s managing to recapture vast swathes of its territory and turn the tide against the foreign-sponsored militants and terrorists.

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