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News & Analysis

Rehabilitating Asad Into The Arabian Fold

Ayman Ahmed

Another nail was driven in the coffin of the US-zionist-Saudi-instigated plot to overthrow the government of Bashar al Asad in Syria when he visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on March 19. Asad was accompanied by his wife Asma. He was received by the UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan at the airport and given a warm welcome.

There is growing momentum across the region to bring Asad back into the fold now that the US-instigated plot to overthrow his government has been defeated. Following his talks with the Syrian guest, the Abu Dhabi President, Sheikh Mohamed tweeted: “Our discussions… explored ways of enhancing cooperation to accelerate stability and progress in Syria and the region.”

Despite US threats, Abu Dhabi was one of the first Arabian countries to restore diplomatic ties with Damascus in 2018. They have correctly surmised that the US no longer has the interest or the capacity to exert influence in the region. These regimes are exploring other avenues to secure their rule.

The devastating earthquake that struck Syria and Turkey on February 6 provided a useful cover for these regimes to mend fences with Damascus. All Arabian regimes sent humanitarian aid to Syria. The UAE pledged over $100 million in assistance. A number of other countries including Saudi Arabia that has still not restored diplomatic relations with Syria, sent in aid. Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Oman, and Tunisia also rushed in aid to the “brotherly Arab country”.

There are also moves afoot to bring Syria back into the fold of the Arab League. While a toothless body, it looks odd that one of the founding members of the Arab League should be excluded from its deliberations.

On February 26, a large delegation of Arab parliament speakers and senior legislators arrived in Damascus, ostensibly to express solidarity with Syria over the devastating earthquake but in reality, to explore ways of brining it back into the fold.

Iraq is spearheading the push for Syria’s reinstatement. It is interesting to note that Iraq also played a major role, together with Oman, in reconciliation talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia leading ultimately to the Beijing accord of March 10.

The Arabian parliamentarians’ delegation was officially received at Damascus International Airport by Hammouda Sabbagh, Speaker of the People’s Assembly of Syria. Speaking to reporters, Sabbagh said: “The atmosphere at the 34th conference of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union in the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad was very positive. It focused on unity among all Arab countries and underlined the need for Syria’s return to the Arab diplomatic fold.”

Other members of the parliamentary delegation were equally keen to help Syria. Speaker of Egypt’s House of Representatives Hanafy el-Gebaly said, “We are here in Damascus to show our support for the brotherly nation of Syria, and demonstrate our solidarity with it in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake.

“We are the same soul. We will stand by Syrians during the current difficult situation,” Gebaly noted. During its one-day visit to Syria, the parliamentary delegation also met President Asad.

A day earlier (February 25), Speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives Mohammed al-Halbousi had called upon “all Arab countries, both at parliamentary and state levels, to adopt a final decision on Syria’s return to the Arab diplomatic fold.”

He urged fellow Arab states to help worn-torn Syria perform its Arab, regional, and international role effectively, work diligently for the country’s stability and reconstruction of its badly damaged infrastructure. Given that there are millions of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries, especially in Turkiye, Halbousi urged their return to Syria.

There is growing realization among Arabian rulers that the policy of overthrowing Asad’s government has failed. Instead of continuing with this failed policy, it is best to make-up with him and save the region from further devastation.

The reconciliation policy had started much earlier but it gained momentum in the aftermath of the February 6 earthquake. For instance, on February 7, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi spoke with Asad by phone. This was the first time the two rulers had spoken to each other. Jordan’s foreign minister visited Damascus on February 15, again under the cover of expressing sympathy for the earthquake victims but in reality, to smooth relations with Syria.

On February 20, Asad visited Muscat and was warmly welcomed in Oman. He held detailed discussions with the Omani ruler Haitham bin Tarik. Among the six-member GCC states, Oman was the only one that did not break off diplomatic ties with Damascus during the foreign-instigated war on Syria. Like Iraq, Oman, too, has supported Syria’s return to the Arab League.

Even Saudi Arabia, the regime that sets the pace for relations between Arabian states, has been making soothing noises lately. Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan said that when it comes to Syria “the status quo is not workable,” and that the world must “at some point” engage Damascus on issues like refugees and humanitarian aid. This was in the context of the western world weaponizing humanitarian aid by refusing to deliver any to areas under Syrian government control.

The worst-hit areas in Syria are Aleppo and Latakia but no international humanitarian aid has been delivered there. This is blatant discrimination. Instead, all international aid has gone to areas under Daesh/ISIS control. This once again proves that the terrorists are backed by the west and using the pretext of earthquake aid, they are being supported and financed.

The quickening pace of contacts with Syria was also reflected in Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry’s visit to Damascus on February 27. This was the first official visit by an Egyptian diplomat to Syria in a decade. He came to pledge that Egypt will provide more aid to what it had already sent to Syria for earthquake victims. Shoukry met both his Syrian counterpart Faisel Mikdad as well as Bashar al Asad.

After the visit of the “brotherly” delegations and officials from Arabian countries, Asad was right to bask in glory. When he visited Moscow on March 14 and 15 for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he was warmly received. Last December, Moscow had hosted talks between Syrian and Turkish defence ministers. These were preceded by their intelligence chiefs also meeting in Moscow. When he received Asad, Putin pledged to work with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to repair relations between the two countries.

Erdogan is keen to meet Asad before the May 2023 presidential elections because the presence of millions of Syrian refugees in Turkey has become a contentious issue. The Syrian president has demanded the withdrawal of all Turkish forces from Syrian territory before he would agree to such a meeting.

How the tables have turned. For nearly a decade, Asad was treated as a pariah and the imperialists, zionists and their regional puppets hovered over Syria as vultures hoping to feast on its carcass. Now they are all (except, of course, the imperialists and zionists) making a beeline to Damascus to shake his hands.

This is a victory for the resistance front led by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Article from

Crescent International Vol. 53, No. 2

Ramadan 10, 14442023-04-01

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