Emirates Lakes learned from reliable sources that the United Arab Emirates governing regime decided to freeze their normalization with the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regime in response to great American pressure.
The same sources said that Abu Dhabi is no longer in a hurry, as in recent months to reveal its ongoing secret relations with the Syrian regime to the public after receiving US pressure.
The US has been exerting pressure on the UAE to halt restoring relations with Syria with the claim of countering Iran’s influence.
These two opposing approaches are an early test of whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could gain political and diplomatic credibility after the eight-year civil war which turned him into an internationally despised leader.
Many countries cut ties with Syria at the beginning of the war. Several Gulf states have closed their embassies or reduced relations and the Arab League has decided to suspend Syria’s membership, shut down flights and shut down border crossings.
The US and other countries imposed economic sanctions on Damascus. Washington does not want Syria to return to the international community until it agrees to a political process in which the war will end.
The US position indicates that al-Assad still far away from being accepted, even after his troops recaptured most of Syria through victories over the Sunni opposition with the help of Iran and Russia.
The lack of support from Washington and Riyadh, the main force in the region, to end Syria’s isolation, will increase the difficulty of getting the necessary investment for reconstruction.
While the UAE believes that Sunni countries should embrace Syria quickly to remove Assad from Iran’s Shiite orbit, the US doesn’t.
The UAE is promoting Assad as the “only option” and believes that the elimination of Iranian influence in Syria could contribute to preventing the recurrence of Iran’s current control over Iraq.
During the war, the UAE supported armed groups opposed to al-Assad. However, its role was less prominent than Saudi Arabia’s role and its support which was often focused on ensuring that Islamist forces do not dominate the uprising.
Three Gulf political sources, a US official and a senior Western diplomat said the US and Saudi officials had spoken to representatives of other Gulf states and urged them not to restore ties with Syria.
In particular, they want those countries not to support Assad’s return to the Arab League and embassies remain closed, with only small workers.
In the light of al-Assad’s consolidation of his military status, relations have begun to improve with some countries. The UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus in December.
A month later, Abu Dhabi hosted a Syrian delegation headed by well-known Syrian businessman Mohammed Hamsho to discuss potential cooperation in trade, infrastructure, agriculture, tourism, logistics, and renewable energy.
A US official said that was a big boost to al-Assad and that the United States had “criticized the Emiratis.”
Perhaps the next step in bringing Syria back to the international community is its return to the Arab League, a move that will be mainly symbolic, but the Assad government will probably use it to show its return from diplomatic isolation, which the UAE has been trying to support.
The start of the normalization of relations between the UAE and the Syrian regime was met by widespread Arab criticism of the step as it doesn’t respect the blood of hundreds of thousands of people who killed in the popular revolt against the al-Assad regime.