New BLOG Post | The UAE and Damascus: The Normalisation of the Syrian Regime | Joseph Daher (WPCS)

MEDirections is delighted to share a new Blog Post from the Wartime and Post-Conflict in Syria project (WPCS).


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, met Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on 9 November 2021. A visit by the most senior Emirati official to Syria in a decade signals the consolidation of relations between Damascus and Abu Dhabi. From 2015, the UAE has shifted from supporting the Syrian opposition, to withdrawal from the Syrian conflict, to rapprochement with the regime. This process culminated with the opening of its embassy in Damascus in December 2018, seven years after it had been closed.

The UAE took the lead, among influential Arab nations, in normalising relations with Damascus, after the UAE agreed on the full normalisation of relations with Israel. This occurred against the background of Washington’s foreign policy reorientation, and the fact that Syria is no longer a top priority. The US’s main focus under the Biden administration is the need to “shore up American competitiveness” in order to meet the challenges posed by China (primarily) and Russia. At the same time, US allies in the region are keen to pursue more autonomous policies from Washington, because the US has proved increasingly unable to act as a long-term partner and security guarantor.


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