UAE Delegation Meets Syrian President

In a sign of warming relations, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received a delegation from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) parliament in Damascus on February 26, 2023. This visit marked a significant development after a period of estrangement between the two nations following the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

The UAE delegation, led by Saqr Ghobash, Speaker of the Federal National Council, participated in the 34th meeting of the Arab Parliamentary Union held in Baghdad. Following the conclusion of the conference, the delegation embarked on a separate visit to Syria, underscoring the UAE's growing engagement with the Arab world.

The meeting between President Assad and Speaker Ghobash focused on strengthening ties between the two countries. Ghobash conveyed greetings from UAE leaders, President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. He also reaffirmed the UAE's commitment to supporting the Syrian people, particularly in the wake of the devastating earthquake that struck the region earlier that month.

President Assad expressed his gratitude for the UAE's humanitarian assistance and commended the leadership's role in fostering regional stability. The discussions reportedly touched upon avenues for future cooperation in various sectors, including reconstruction efforts, trade, and investment.

This parliamentary exchange is viewed by analysts as a critical step towards the normalization of relations between Syria and the UAE. The UAE, along with several other Arab states, had severed ties with Syria following the Assad regime's violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests in 2011. However, in recent years, there have been growing calls for Syria's reintegration into the Arab fold, particularly with the aim of facilitating a political resolution to the ongoing conflict.

The UAE's outreach to Syria is seen as a pragmatic move, reflecting its broader strategic interests in the region. The UAE, a key player in the Middle East, seeks to enhance its regional influence and promote stability. Re-establishing ties with Syria could potentially open up new economic opportunities and contribute to a more unified Arab stance on critical regional issues.

While the recent parliamentary visit represents a positive development, significant challenges remain on the path to full normalization. The human rights situation in Syria and the ongoing political deadlock continue to be major concerns for the international community. The extent to which Syria is willing to address these issues will likely determine the pace and depth of its reintegration into the regional political landscape.

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