The United Arab Emirates sent humanitarian aid to Syria on Thursday. It is the latest example of the UAE seeking to strengthen ties with Syria, which has strained relations with many Arab states due to the ongoing Syrian civil war.
An Emirati medical and food assistance aircraft landed in Damascus early Thursday morning. The medical aid included equipment to help combat COVID-19, the Syrian state media outlet SANA reported.
Syria’s relations with other Arab states have been severely damaged by the Syrian civil war, but the UAE is leading efforts to mend ties with the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad. Syria was suspended from the Arab League in 2011 at the start of the uprising against Assad following the government’s violent crackdown on protests. Several Arab states, including the UAE, originally supported Syrian rebel groups in the war.
Abu Dhabi has since shifted its stance to one of rapprochement with Damascus. Last month, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan called for international cooperation with Assad and said US sanctions on Syria “make the matter difficult.” The UAE as well as its ally Egypt are also now calling for Syria to be readmitted into the Arab League.
Syria is in need of assistance due to the ongoing war, a bad economy and harsh US sanctions. The United Nations believes the coronavirus is far more widespread in the country than the government is letting on. Millions of Syrians also lack access to sufficient food, according to the UN.