A key motive for the overtures by Sunni Muslim countries in the Persian Gulf is to blunt the involvement of their Shiite-led foe, Iran, which saw its influence expand rapidly in the chaos of Syria’s war.
The rapprochement, however, could serve both sides.
Syria badly needs to boost relations with oil-rich countries as its economy is being strangled by crippling Western sanctions and as it faces the task of post-war reconstruction. The UAE is also home to thousands of Syrians who work in the Gulf Arab nation and send money to their relatives at home.
The UAE’s state-run WAM news agency said the country’s de facto ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan welcomed Syria’s Bashar al-Assad at his palace in Abu Dhabi.
At the meeting, Sheikh Mohammed expressed his hope “this visit would be the beginning of peace and stability for Syria and tee entire region.”