Bahrain appoints its first ambassador to Damascus since 2011


Bahrain on Thursday appointed its first ambassador to Damascus since it degraded relations at the start of the conflict in Syria.

The appointment of Waheed Mubarak Sayyar, reported by Bahrain’s state news agency BNA, is part of a diplomatic shift in the Middle East as a growing number of Arab countries reconnect with President Bashar al-Assad.

The Gulf Arab states downgraded or closed their missions in Damascus after the Syrian government used force against the 2011 protests that turned into war. Bahrain said its embassy and the Syrian diplomatic mission in Manama remained operational.

Last month, the United Arab Emirates, which reopened its mission in Damascus at the end of 2018, sent its foreign minister to Damascus where he met Assad. He called for Syria’s readmission to the Arab League.

Abu Dhabi has started re-engaging with Damascus after decisive gains from pro-government forces, hoping to increase Arab weight in Syria at the expense of non-Arab Turkey and Iran, which back Assad.

The United Arab Emirates was one of many regional states supporting rebel groups in Syria, although their role is less important than those of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which have not reestablished ties with Damascus.

Last year, Oman became the first Gulf state to reinstate an ambassador to Syria.



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