Bahrain appoints first ambassador to Damascus since 2011

Bahrain appointed its first ambassador to Damascus on Thursday since it downgraded ties early in 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 rekindle ties with President Bashar al-Assad.

The Persian Gulf states downgraded or closed missions in Damascus after the Syrian government used force against the 2011 protests that escalated into war. Bahrain has said that its embassy and the Syrian diplomatic mission in Manama have 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 with Assad. He has called for Syria to be readmitted to the Arab League.

Abu Dhabi began to reengage with Damascus after decisive advances by pro-government forces, hoping to increase Arab influence in Syria at the expense of non-Arab Turkey and Iran, which supports Assad.

The UAE was one of several regional states that backed the rebel groups in Syria, although its role was less prominent than those of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which have not reestablished ties with Damascus.

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


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