Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who backed regime change in Syria and allowed weapons to be funneled through his kingdom to opposition rebels, spoke to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday. It was the first time the pair have communicated since the start of Syria’s devastating civil conflict a decade ago. The thaw, which also saw Jordan reopen its sealed borders with its impoverished neighbor, is seen as the latest indication that Assad is being rehabilitated after being shunned as a war criminal. With plenty of encouragement from Assad’s Russian mentors, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Egypt have already made overtures to Damascus while Saudi Arabia is said to be engaged in informal talks with the Assad regime as well. The biggest game-changer, however, would be a similar U-turn by Turkey, which shares a 911-kilometer-long border with Syria, occupies large chunks of its territory and remains the premier mentor of Syria’s armed opposition.
Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is in the midst of mending ties with its regional betes noires, Egypt and the UAE. Will it do the same with Assad? The question is being posed with increasing frequency on prime-time political debate shows. The country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan “would do anything” so long as it serves to sustain his power, said Sefik Cirkin, a veteran nationalist politician who opposed the campaign to oust Assad.