Recently, some Arab countries are trying to protect their interests by advancing towards normalization with the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, which they do not think will fall militarily.
The Arab League suspended Syria’s membership on October 12, 2011, and called for Arab ambassadors to withdraw from Damascus until the Assad regime firmly honors its commitment to full protection of civilians.
After the Syrian revolution started with peaceful demonstrations, after the forces of the Assad regime followed the policies of oppression, killing and arrest, it turned into an armed struggle, and since the end of 2011, they provided financial and political assistance to the Syrian opposition, as well as weapon support.
There is a deep debate among the member states of the Union about renormalizing relations with the Syrian regime and returning Syria’s suspended seat of the Union. Despite the Arab League’s suspension of Syria’s membership, the Assad regime was not completely alone politically.
After 10 years of war in Syria, this Mediterranean country is still grappling with internal instability and a decline in living standards, while the Assad regime is trying to emerge from the political isolation that caused the economic and social crisis with the support of its allies such as Russia, Iran and Iraq.
Most of the North African countries that kept in touch with the regime, and some other countries such as Oman, Iraq and Egypt preferred to stay neutral in the Syrian war and leave the door of communication with the regime open.
The involvement of Lebanese, Iraqi, Afghan and Pakistani Shiite armed fighters affiliated to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and then the Russian military intervention in 2015, kept Assad in power and eliminated the possibility of his military fall.
Although there is an opinion by some that the war in Syria has ended in favor of the Assad regime and its allies since 2018, after the armed opposition left the capital city of Damascus and the nearby city of Daraa after years of bloody struggles, the regime’s military decline does not seem possible.
It seems that many Arab countries recognized this fact early on and thought that it was in their interests to re-normalize their relations with the ruling regime in Damascus.
The biggest change in the attitude of Arab countries took place in early 2017. This change of attitude took place after the Syrian opposition lost the fight in Aleppo in early 2017, and in 2018 in the vicinity of Damascus and Daraa, handed over their weapons to the regime, and agreed to withdraw from the areas in northern Syria controlled by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and some other groups. .
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain reopened their embassies in Damascus at the chargé d’affaires level at the end of 2018. In October 2020, Oman re-sent its Ambassador to Damascus, becoming the first Gulf country to raise its diplomatic representation to ambassador level.
Saudi Arabia communicated with Syria
Saudi Arabia recalled its Ambassador to Damascus in August 2011 and announced in March 2012 that the Syrian Embassy was closed and diplomats and employees were summoned to the country.
According to reports in the media, Saudi Arabia has also opened communication channels with Syria recently.
Mohammed Rami Ridvan Martini, the Tourism Minister of the Assad regime in Syria, attended a conference in Riyadh last March and became the first Syrian senior official to visit Saudi Arabia since 2011.
In May, direct communication channels were opened with Syria, with Saudi Arabian Intelligence Chief Khalid al-Khomeydan visiting Damascus and meeting with Bashar al-Assad and Syrian National Security Bureau Head Ali Mamluk.
The official stance of Saudi Arabia is still in favor of a political solution to the end of the war under the auspices of the United Nations (UN).
Relations with Jordan are softening
A few days ago, the Assad regime Defense Minister Ali Abdullah Ayyub visited Jordan.
During the visit, which was the first time since the revolution began in Syria in 2011, the Syrian Minister met with Jordanian Chief of General Staff Yusuf al-Huneyti and discussed the border security of the two countries. During the meeting, it was emphasized that coordination and consultation in all common areas continues.
While the cold winds blowing between Jordan and the Assad regime since 2011, when the events broke out in Syria, left their place to soften with the mutual steps taken in the recent period, a process of progress has been entered in diplomatic relations.
Jordan also allowed the transit of Egyptian natural gas and Jordanian electricity supplies to Syria and from there to Lebanon.
The Assad regime is trying to integrate through Iraq
In addition to these, the Damascus administration is trying to integrate itself into the Arab environment through Iraq and is taking steps in this direction.
Had it not been for the pressures of Iraq, France and Turkey, he wanted to invite the Assad regime to the Cooperation and Partnership Conference held in Baghdad last August.
The Syrian regime is also taking action for initiatives through Lebanon. An official delegation from Lebanon visited Damascus for the first time before the government of Najib Mikati, who had strong ties with Damascus in Lebanon for many years, was formed.
Only the Qatari government is openly and unequivocally opposed to normalizing relations with the Syrian regime.
Arab countries on the way to normalization
In recent years, some Arab countries have sought to reorganize their diplomatic relations with Damascus at various levels.
Some European countries such as Greece, Italy, Spain, Romania and Czechia also say they intend to reopen Embassies in Damascus.
In addition to the embargoes of the European Union (EU) and the USA to the Syrian regime, the attitude of the Arab League, which suspended the membership of Syria under the Assad regime, and the lack of a common stance on this issue, may pose an obstacle to the full normalization of the Arab countries with Damascus.
The normalization of Arab countries with Syria will mean strengthening the legitimacy of the Assad regime, which contradicts that of the United States, Europe and most Arab countries.
The US and EU countries are still putting pressure on the Assad regime to comply with the political and economic sanctions, UN resolutions and the resolutions taken at the Geneva meetings in order to resolve the war in Syria politically.
However, the regime is using the stalling tactic of reconciliation through UN-supervised rounds of negotiations in Geneva, trying to restore its legitimacy by opening channels of communication with some Arab countries to dominate all Syrian territory and establish the stability necessary for the rebuilding of cities devastated by war since 2011. wishes.
US influence in Damascus expansion
It is thought that the opening of the Arab countries to Damascus is the result of the change in the strategy of the USA in the region with Joe Biden’s coming to power.
In terms of normalization, states neighboring Syria, especially Lebanon and Jordan, have important geopolitical and economic interests such as the safe return of Syrian refugees in their countries.
Jordan had reopened the border crossing with Syria in order to reduce the aid of the USA and the Gulf countries to the Amman administration and to strengthen its economy, which was experiencing crises due to the new type of coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemic.
Most Arab countries that have chosen to normalize their relations with Syria have an unrealistic belief that the regime will take control of most vital areas in Syria and that regime forces will establish security and stability there.
In addition, although there is no data on the possibility of the collapse of the coalition between the Syrian regime and Iran, and there is no political will or desire in this direction, the UAE, Bahrain and some countries believe that normalization with the Assad regime and the return of the Arab position to Syria will help Iran in Syria and Syria. He thinks it will limit his influence in the region.
. (HAS) . ..