President Bashar Al-Assad traveled to the United Arab Emirates. This was his first trip to an Arab country since 2011’s civil war in Syria.
According to the UN, more than 350,000 people died during over a decade in fighting in Syria. Millions of people were forced from their homes and their lives were forever changed by this conflict.
Large areas of the country were destroyed and many of the once prosperous cities, such as Aleppo, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on the planet, have been reduced to ruins.
After the war broke out, Syria was expelled by the 22-member Arab League. It was also boycotted in its neighbor countries. However, the new visit seems to indicate a shift in strategy.
Ned Price, spokesperson for the US state department, stated that he was “profoundly dissatisfied and troubled” by the apparent attempt to legitimise Bashar al Assad.
This is in the context of reports claiming that Russia seeks to use Syrian fighters to support its troops in Ukraine.
The presidency office posted a statement on its social media channels stating that Assad met Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum on Friday as vice president and prime Minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai.
Arab countries are closer to restoring ties to the leader of Syria, with the war in Syria now in a stalemate.
Sunni Muslim countries are believed to have acted in order to curb Iran’s involvement in the Persian Gulf. Iran saw its influence grow rapidly during the chaos in Syria’s war.
According to the UAE’s state-run WAM news agency, Assad was welcomed into Abu Dhabi by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, de facto ruler of the country.
Sheikh Mohammed expressed hope that “this visit would be a beginning of peace, stability for Syria and all of the region”.
According to the report, Assad briefed Sheikh Mohammed about the latest developments in Syria and discussed mutual interest in the Arab World.
The UN’s humanitarian affairs chief in September warned that Syria was still in a “downward spiral” after more than a decade-long war and that the country would continue to be a “place of tragedy,” as long as the conflict continues.