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Gulf states slowly warm to Damascus

Gulf states are turning their backs on supporting armed groups in Syria and preparing to re-engage the government in Damascus.
Security guards stand in front of the United Arab Emirates embassy during its reopening in Damascus, Syria December 27, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki - RC1F43BEB420

Although not over, the Syrian crisis is beginning a new chapter. Regional governments are slowly accepting the inevitable and beginning to re-engage with Damascus. Given realities on the ground, Arab regimes have concluded that because Syria’s Baathist order is not on the verge of falling, it is most pragmatic to restore relations with President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

A watershed in Syria’s reintegration into the diplomatic fold of the Arab League came late last year when the embattled Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir paid a visit to Damascus. Bashir became the first Arab head of state to meet with Assad since the Syrian crisis started nearly eight years ago. That meeting followed developments in Jordanian-Syrian relations signaling Amman’s interest in a rapprochement with Damascus, and it came shortly before the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain announced the reopening of their diplomatic missions in the Syrian capital.

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