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US sanctions challenge Syria’s Arab League return: UAE

Syria's near-complete isolation has increased since the Trump administration in 2019 enacted legislation known as the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act [File: SANA via Reuters]

US sanctions challenge Syria’s Arab League return: UAE

Sweeping US sanctions against the govt of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad undermine regional rapprochement efforts that would help settle the Syrian conflict, the secretary of state of the United Arab Emirates has said.

In a joint press conference together with his Russian counterpart in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, Emirati secretary of state Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan pushed for “joint action with Syria”, saying American economic pressure “as it’s today makes the matter difficult”.

Sheikh Abdullah said it had been a problem that “should be a part of [the] dialogue we address clearly with our friends within the United States”.

He further pushed for the reinstatement of war-torn Syria within the 22-member Arab League and noted the govt and personal sector “could play a role” in returning Syria “to normal” after years of ruinous war.

Sheikh Abdullah’s remarks underscore shifting regional dynamics because the 10-year anniversary of Syria’s war looms next week.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) supported the Syrian opposition during the first years of the war. But because the Syrian army recaptured most of the territory from the opposition, the UAE and other Arab countries made openings towards al-Assad’s government.

In 2018, the UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus for the primary time since the beginning of an organised Arab diplomatic boycott in 2011.

‘Accountable for atrocities’
Syria’s near-complete isolation has increased since the Trump administration in 2019 enacted legislation referred to as the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act.

The sanctions, which US officials said aimed to carry “accountable the Assad regime for atrocities it’s committed against its own people”, target Syria’s president, his close circle of associates, family, senior security officials and troops, also because the financial institution and any institutions believed to possess played a task within the violence during the war.

While al-Assad may have won the campaign against his opponents with the assistance of backers Russia and Iran, he faces a good bigger challenge of governing while quite 80 percent of his people sleep in poverty.

Russian secretary of state Sergey Lavrov didn’t elaborate on the Syrian conflict at the press conference beyond saying Russia “supports a political settlement” there also as in war-scarred Libya and Yemen.

In Libya, the UAE and Russia provided military aid to east-based renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar as his forces battled the UN-recognised government for control of the country’s capital last year.


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