Arab allies of US bring Assad in from the cold as Biden looks elsewhere

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  colour-me-free  •  2 weeks ago  •  18 comments

Arab allies of US bring Assad in from the cold as Biden looks elsewhere
“US allies in the Arab world have been encouraging Washington to lift the siege on Damascus and allow for its reintegration into the Arab fold,” said David Lesch, a Syria expert at Trinity University in Texas. “It appears the Biden administration, to some degree, is listening.”

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



Economic and political factors drive Arab opening to Syria's leader


Beirut  — While Bashar al-Assad is still shunned by the West who blame him for a decade of brutal war in Syria, a shift is under way in the Middle East where Arab allies of the US are bringing him in from the cold by reviving economic and diplomatic ties.

The extension of Assad's two-decades-old presidency in an election in May did little to break his pariah status among Western states, but fellow Arab leaders are coming to terms with the fact that he retains a solid grip on power.

The chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan has firmed up a belief among Arab leaders that they need to chart their own course. Anticipating a more hands-off approach from Washington, now preoccupied by the challenge of China, Arab leaders are driven by their own priorities, notably how to rehabilitate economies hammered by years of conflict and COVID-19.

Political considerations also loom large in Arab capitals such as Cairo, Amman and Abu Dhabi. These include their ties with Assad's most powerful backer, Russia, which has been pressing for Syria's reintegration, and how to counter the influence carved out in Syria by Iran and Turkey.

Turkey and its support for Sunni Islamists across the region — including a swathe of northern Syria that remains outside Assad’s grasp — is of particular concern to Arab rulers who can make common cause with Damascus against Islamist groups.

But while the signs of Arab rapprochement with Damascus are growing — King Abdullah of Jordan spoke to Assad for the first time in a decade this month — US policy will remain a complicating factor.

Washington says there has been no change in its policy towards Syria, which demands a political transition as set out in a Security Council resolution. US sanctions targeting Damascus, tightened under former US president Donald Trump, still pose a serious obstacle to commerce.

But in Washington, analysts say Syria has hardly been a foreign policy priority for President Joe Biden’s administration. They note his focus on countering China and that his administration has yet to apply sanctions under the so-called Caesar Act, which came into force in 2020 with the intent of adding to the pressure on Assad.

After being warned against dealing with Damascus by the Trump administration, Arab states are pressing the issue again.

“US allies in the Arab world have been encouraging Washington to lift the siege on Damascus and allow for its reintegration into the Arab fold,” said David Lesch, a Syria expert at Trinity University in Texas. “It appears the Biden administration, to some degree, is listening.”

It marks a shift from the early years of the conflict when Syria was expelled from the Arab League and states including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates backed some of the rebels that fought Assad.

The decade-long conflict, which spiralled out of a popular uprising against Assad during the “Arab Spring”, has killed hundreds of thousands of people, uprooted half the population and forced millions into adjacent states and Europe as refugees.

Anti-Assad rebels still have a foothold in the north, with support from Turkey, while the east and northeast is controlled by Kurdish-led forces backed by the US.

But while the conflict is unresolved, Assad is back in control of most of Syria thanks largely to Russia and Iran, which were always more committed to his survival than Washington was to his removal, even when chemical weapons were fired on rebel areas.

Jordan, Syria’s neighbour to the south, has been leading the pack on the Arab policy shift with an ailing economy and a rocky patch in relations with its wealthy Gulf neighbour Saudi Arabia.

The border between Syria and Jordan was fully reopened for trade last month, and Amman has been a driving force behind a deal to pipe Egyptian natural gas to Lebanon via Syria, with an apparent US nod of approval.

“When Jordan breaks these barriers and establishes ties and it's at this pace, there will be countries that will follow suit,” Samih al-Maaytah, a former Jordanian minister and political analyst, told Al Mamlaka, a state-owned broadcaster.

The crossing was once plied by hundreds of trucks a day moving goods between Europe, Turkey and the Gulf. Reviving trade will be a shot in the arm for Jordan and Syria, whose economy is in deep crisis. It should also help Lebanon, now suffering one of the sharpest economic depressions in modern history.

“I’m absolutely sure the Jordanians feel that the US will not sanction them,” said Jim Jeffrey, former US special envoy for Syria under Trump.

“There’s a tremendous buzz among media, among friends in the region, that the US is no longer aggressively sanctioning Assad under the Caesar Act or other things.”

The mood was reflected at last month's UN General Assembly, where Egyptian and Syrian foreign ministers met for the first time in a decade, and at the Expo 2020 Dubai exhibition, where the Syrian and Emirati economy ministers discussed the revival of a bilateral business council.

The UAE had invited Syria to Expo 2020 despite attempts to “demonise the regime”, said Syria's ambassador to the UAE, Ghassan Abbas, speaking to Reuters at the Syria pavilion where the theme was “We Will Rise Together”.

“Is there a new approach in dealing with Syria? Yes.”

Aaron Stein, director of research at Foreign Policy Research Institute, said the Biden administration “isn’t interested in expending diplomatic capital to prevent regional governments from doing what they think is best vis-à-vis the regime”.

US policy in Syria is now focused on fighting Islamic State militants and humanitarian aid, he said.

A US state department spokesperson said: “What we have not done and will not do is express any support for efforts to normalise or rehabilitate the brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad, lift a single sanction on Syria, or change our position to oppose the reconstruction of Syria until there is irreversible progress towards a political solution.”

While many US allies in the region pursue fresh ties with Damascus, regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia still appears hesitant.

“The big effort is to get Saudi Arabia and Syria into some kind of reconciliation, and I think Saudi is coming around, they are just waiting for the US,” said Joshua Landis, Syria specialist at the University of Oklahoma. 


Tags

jrDiscussion - desc
[]
 
Colour Me Free
Junior Participates
1  seeder  Colour Me Free    2 weeks ago

I started out reading this ...

Biden’s Inaction on Syria Risks Normalizing Assad—and His Crimes

Biden’s Syria Policy Risks Normalizing Assad’s Crimes (foreignpolicy.com)

Then published the above article .. both are good reads, if one likes foreign policy...

 
 
 
Colour Me Free
Junior Participates
2  seeder  Colour Me Free    2 weeks ago
The border between Syria and Jordan was fully reopened for trade last month, and Amman has been a driving force behind a deal to pipe Egyptian natural gas to Lebanon via Syria, with an apparent US nod of approval.

HA!  Hallux it is all about the pipelines .. as you already know  : )

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
2.1  Hallux  replied to  Colour Me Free @2    2 weeks ago

Of course it is all about pipelines ... the Saudis and Iranians are meeting up in Iraq and I doubt it is about Sufi poetry.

 
 
 
Colour Me Free
Junior Participates
2.1.1  seeder  Colour Me Free  replied to  Hallux @2.1    2 weeks ago

Thanks for the link .. cannot believe I missed that.  Wonder what the results were - love to have been a fly on that wall!

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
2.1.2  Hallux  replied to  Colour Me Free @2.1.1    2 weeks ago

The Saudis do not like flies on the wall, they have a tendency to slice and dice them into portable pieces as they did with Jamal Khashoggi.

 
 
 
Colour Me Free
Junior Participates
2.1.3  seeder  Colour Me Free  replied to  Hallux @2.1.2    2 weeks ago

Good point! 

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
2.2  Hallux  replied to  Colour Me Free @2    2 weeks ago

Then again Israel is in the mix with the Leviathan Gas Field. "In January 2019, Israel, Egypt, and Cyprus announced the creation of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum, which aims to build a 1,200-mile pipeline connecting the abundant hydrocarbon reserves of the Levantine basin with Europe via Cyprus and Crete. The European Commission has contributed nearly $39 million to the project, which is forecast  to be complete d in seven years."

 
 
 
Colour Me Free
Junior Participates
2.2.1  seeder  Colour Me Free  replied to  Hallux @2.2    2 weeks ago

From the link...

Ten years ago, Israel depended on Egyptian natural gas. Today, Israel exports natural gas to both Egypt and Jordan.  Export agreements to Jordan and Egypt  have already been concluded for Leviathan Phase 1A gas. Israel will export 106 bcf (3 bcm) natural gas per year to Jordan starting in 2020 through a 65-kilometer pipeline. Israel will need access to additional markets, however, if it is to export large quantities of natural gas. A burgeoning energy relationship with the EU is very much in Jerusalem’s interest.

Fascinating how pipelines are changing the world .. 5 or 9 years ago I was poo poo'd for saying it was all about the pipelines .. 'Assad must go' was based on a pipeline - had 'we' really cared about the people of Syria 'we' would have intervened to stop the genocide, instead it was #Assadmustgo! .. remember when hash tags solved problems?

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
2.2.2  Hallux  replied to  Colour Me Free @2.2.1    2 weeks ago

Have fun ... A big gas war for Europe begins:

 
 
 
Colour Me Free
Junior Participates
2.2.3  seeder  Colour Me Free  replied to  Hallux @2.2.2    2 weeks ago

Great read .. almost makes one feel bad for Russia .. def feel bad for the citizens!

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
2.2.4  Hallux  replied to  Colour Me Free @2.2.3    2 weeks ago

Also of interest when it comes to pipelines:

Did lead poisoning cause downfall of Roman Empire? The jury is still out

 
 
 
Colour Me Free
Junior Participates
2.2.5  seeder  Colour Me Free  replied to  Hallux @2.2.4    2 weeks ago

Ooo my ... do you suppose orgies came to fruition due to lead poisoning?   : )

 
 
 
GregTx
Sophomore Participates
2.2.6  GregTx  replied to  Colour Me Free @2.2.5    2 weeks ago

Orgies don't come (hehe) to fruition they simply become get-togethers due to exhaustion. At least real ones do....😈 

 
 
 
Colour Me Free
Junior Participates
2.2.7  seeder  Colour Me Free  replied to  GregTx @2.2.6    2 weeks ago

Ooo my  : )

 
 
 
SteevieGee
Senior Silent
3  SteevieGee    2 weeks ago

Since we left Syria a while back, abandoning our allies, we no longer have a position to do anything in Syria.

 
 
 
Colour Me Free
Junior Participates
3.1  seeder  Colour Me Free  replied to  SteevieGee @3    2 weeks ago

Agreed .. yet there are still troops in Syria

Calls for end of US military intervention in Syria grow louder

After Afghanistan, demands for the US troops to withdraw from Syria have increased and are being raised from several quarters. Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi and Iraqi president Barham Salih, speaking at two different events on Wednesday, September 22, raised the issue and demanded that all foreign military intervention in the region should end. 

.....

The US has around 900 troops in Syria, mostly in the eastern part of the country in the provinces of Deir El-Zur and Hassaka. In complete violation of Syrian sovereignty, the US has also created a military base in al-Tanf in the Homs province. Though the US Central Command describes its military presence in Syria as training and assistance to its allies, it has often been accused of carrying out military operations by the Syrian government. 

Calls for end of US military intervention in Syria grow louder : Peoples Dispatch
 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
4  Ender    2 weeks ago

I have been saying let the people over there deal with things on their own.

Kinda seems like that is actually happening, a little bit.

Of course it is all about money...

 
 
 
Colour Me Free
Junior Participates
4.1  seeder  Colour Me Free  replied to  Ender @4    2 weeks ago
Of course it is all about money...

Yep and pipelines .. at one time Turkey was to become the energy hub for the EU with a pipeline from Qatar but Assad refused to allow it to run through Syria .. Assad's reasoning was to protect Russian interests as Nat Gas suppliers to the EU...

 
 
Loading...
Loading...

Who is online



shona1
CB


37 visitors