Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 June 2019

Bahrain says it will reopen embassy in Damascus, after UAE restores mission

Gulf states are seeking to offset growing Iranian and Turkish influence in Syria by reinstating diplomatic ties

Bahrain’s foreign minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, tweeted that his country respects the Palestinian leadership’s steadfast position safeguarding Palestinian rights. Reuters
Bahrain’s foreign minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, tweeted that his country respects the Palestinian leadership’s steadfast position safeguarding Palestinian rights. Reuters

Bahrain announced on Thursday that it will restore its diplomatic mission to Syria, only hours after the United Arab Emirates reopened its embassy in Damascus.

A statement from Bahrain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the decision, which signals a thaw in relations between the Syrian government and the Arab world after years of diplomatic isolation.

The move also suggests that Gulf states are seeking to offset growing Iranian and Turkish influence in Syria by reinstating diplomatic ties.

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There were indications of a rapprochement between Syria and Bahrain in the autumn when a video circulated on social media networks of a warm meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly between Syrian foreign minister Walid Al Moallem and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid Al Khalifa.

Manama’s top diplomat would later say in an interview that Arab countries could not stand by while Syria’s fate was determined by regional and international powers.

Following a ceremony marking the reopening of the Emirates' embassy in Damascus, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash said the coming phase in Syria requires increased Arab involvement to protect Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

He said on Twitter that an Arab role in Syria has become "necessary" to combat the growing influence of Turkey and Iran.

"The UAE is working to activate this role through it's presence in Damascus," he said, adding that the Emirates is also hoping to contribute to a political solution to the war.

Most Gulf states shut down their diplomatic missions in Syria in 2012.

Oman, with its policy of quiet diplomacy, is the only Gulf Arab country to have kept its embassy in Damascus open throughout the civil war.

Updated: December 28, 2018 09:58 AM

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