TEHRAN (Iran News) – UAE crown prince discussed the coronavirus pandemic with the Syrian president in an unprecedented phone call.
The conversation between Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bashar al-Assad on Friday after almost a decade hints subtly at a shift in the policy of the Arab state, once supporting the anti-Damascus militants.
Emirates News Agency said Assad and bin Zayed exchanged views on efforts to battle the coronavirus, according to nytimes.com quoting AP.
Bin Zayed, believed to be the Emirates’ day-to-day ruler, said Syria and the UAE need to “place the humanitarian solidarity over political issues during this common challenge ‘we are all facing’,” according to the report.
The crown prince of the oil-rich Abu Dhabi affirmed that Syria “will not be left alone during these delicate and critical circumstances.”
As unprecedented as the conditions created by the coronavirus spread, the phone call implies that humanitarian concerns aside, the UAE is increasingly seeing no point in continued hostility with the Syrian government, which has now recaptured most of the country except some parts in northwestern Idlib Province, where the Syrian people have been taken hostage and the government forces are trying to flush out the militants.
As another sign suggesting its reluctance in the pursuit of the unachieved targets of the anti-Syria alliance, the UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus in late 2018, for the first time since an organized Arab diplomatic boycott soon after the war on Syria erupted in 2011. The embassy representation is at a charge d’affairs level but its very reopening was a sign that more rapprochement is likely to follow.
Analysts maintain the phone call signals a major thaw in relations between Syria and the UAE.
Syria’s health system and infrastructure have been decimated by years of conflict. Although Damascus has recorded only five cases of infection with coronavirus, there are concerns that the spread of the virus may widen.
As the war on Syria wound down and with the Syrian Army already in control of most of the territory, some other Arab states, in addition to the UAE, made limited and usually indirect openings toward Assad’s government.
Friday’s phone call, however, is the first publicized contact between an Arab leader and Assad.
The anti-Syria coalition, which controls one overpopulated stretch of territory in northwestern Syria, is now mainly supported by Turkey, which the UAE and other Arab countries view with suspicion because of its embrace of terrorists.
Syria’s official presidency Twitter account said the crown prince stressed that the UAE will support the “Syrian people during these exceptional times.”
- source : Iran Daily, Irannews