With Arab countries embracing Syria again, is country's isolation finally over?

New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaWritten By: Daniele PaganiUpdated: Jan 03, 2019, 05:54 PM IST
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File photo. Photograph:(Reuters)

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Breaking the isolation would help bring the Syrian economy back on track and manage the eventual return of millions of refugees.

The brutal all-out war in Syria is now coming to an end. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, thanks to the fundamental Russian and Iranian military support, has emerged victorious against all odds. 

Neighbouring countries have slowly started rebuilding ties with Syria, putting an end to its isolation in the region. 

The United Arab Emirates reopened its embassy in Damascus for the first time in seven years.

The UAE, as the majority of Gulf countries, had supported the anti-Assad opposition throughout the war. 

Bahrain expressed support for the move, underlining that its embassy had kept functioning throughout the war. 

Kuwait is said to be ready to restore ties with Damascus but says the decision must be taken by the Arab League which expelled Syria in 2011. 

Rumour has it, member-states of the Arab League are weighing the possibility of gradually re-admitting Syria.

Algeria, one of the few states which did not sever ties with Syria, is said to be spearheading the diplomatic effort.

The Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir paid a visit to Damascus, becoming the first Arab leader to do so in seven years. Tunisia resumed its direct flights to Syria. 

Re-opening ties with neighbouring Arab countries, even if they supported the armed opposition, is fundamental for Assad. 

Assad managed to win the military conflict, but war does not end with the last bullet. Syria would need an enormous international effort to rebuild the country. Reconstruction cost alone is estimated to be staggering 400 billion dollars.

Breaking the isolation would help bring the Syrian economy back on track, manage the eventual return of millions of refugees, and punish those who committed crimes. 

The Gulf countries also need to reconnect with Damascus if they want to counterweight Iranian and Turkish influence in the region.

Iran funded and armed tens of thousands of militia against anti-Assad armed opposition groups.

Shortly after Donald Trump announced that US troops would pull out from Syria, Turkey spoke about a new military offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria. Ankara considers the mainly-Kurdish YPG as a terrorist group.

Kurds reached out to the Syrian army, which is moving its soldiers to avoid a large-scale offensive.

If the Syrian government retakes control of the Kurdish areas and the border crossings with Turkey, Ankara is likely to refrain from launching a full-scale operation.

In return, Turkey could help keep under control the last rebel battalions holed up in the northern Syrian Idlib. 

The future of Syria can only be determined amid regional and international cooperation. There is nothing Damascus can decide on its own.

This is the heavy price it pays for having become the terrain of a proxy war for hegemony in the region.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)