The Bahraini embassy in Damascus is open again, the Gulf nation announced on Friday, a day after a similar move by the UAE. It seems Saudi Arabia and its allies are ready to acknowledge Syria’s victory in the war.
Early in the multifaceted Syrian conflict, which involved hostilities between various domestic forces and a strong influx of foreign fighters, several Gulf Arab states shut down their diplomatic missions in Syria. The country was also expelled from the Arab League in 2011, as Riyadh and Doha backed anti-government Sunni forces trying to topple the Alawite-dominated government in Damascus. Now the diplomatic ties are being restored.
On Friday, Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry released a statement, which stressed the importance of continued relations with Syria and the “the Arab role” in preserving Syria’s independence.
“Syria is a major Arab country in the region, we did not cut ties and it did not do so ... We stand with it in protecting its sovereignty and its territory from any violation,” tweeted later Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa.
Bahrain is a small island nation that hosts US Fifth Fleet, which had to call in Saudi troops in 2011 to quash Shiite mass protests, which started as part of the so-called “Arab Spring”.
Earlier on Thursday, the UAE’s embassy in Damascus was reopened in a flag-raising ceremony almost eight years after its closure. This seems to be a continuation of a normalization trend started earlier in December by a visit of the Sudanese President Omar Bashir to Damascus. There are also numerous if unconfirmed speculations that the Arab League is about to readmit Syria.
Considering Bahrain’s close relations to Riyadh, it appears Saudi Arabia and its allies, who were once bent on seeing the government in Damascus toppled, are not expecting this to come anytime soon. Re-engaging it diplomatically is a logical step for mending the ties damaged during earlier.
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