Syrian president receives UAE’s first envoy to Damascus after over a decade

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has received the first ambassador to have been sent by the United Arab Emirates to Damascus in more than a decade since the breakout of the war in the country.

Assad accepted the credentials of Hassan Ahmed al-Shehhi as Abu Dhabi’s ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the Syrian capital on Tuesday, the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported.

Al-Shehhi had served as the Emirates’ ambassador to Iraq since 2015, and before that, he was Abu Dhabi’s envoy to Sudan.

Abu Dhabi withdrew its envoy from Damascus in 2011, when Syria found itself in the grip of rampant foreign-backed militancy and Takfiri terrorism.

Enlisting the assistance of its allies, most notably Iran and Russia, however, the Arab country began to fight back.

During more than a decade of uphill battle, Syria managed to claw back huge swaths of its territory from the foreign-sponsored groups.

The battleground victories was followed by several Arab countries’ starting to restore their ties with Damascus.

The UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus in December 2018, tasking Charge d’Affaires Abdul Hakim al-Nuaimi with handling the diplomatic affairs between the countries.

Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan also visited Syria in late 2021.

The visit was reciprocated by a trip by Assad to Abu Dhabi in March 2022.

Syria’s return to the Arab fold has also witnessed endeavor on the part of several other Arab countries to normalize their ties with Damascus.

Last May, the Arab League, a 22-member intergovernmental organization of Arab states, agreed to welcome Syria back with immediate effect.

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