Al-Monitor – On Dec. 16, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir became the first Arab leader to visit Syria since the civil war began seven years ago. From Syrian President Bashar al-Assad greeting Bashir at the airport to Bashir’s comments in support of Syria retaking its important place in the region, the meeting was heavily publicized by Syria’s state-run news agency, SANA. Officials said the purpose of the meeting, which lasted for one day at the presidential palace without the presence of journalists, was to discuss bilateral ties. However, such a meeting will have ramifications for Syria and Arab relations as well as for Syria’s long-time ally, Iran.
Iranian analyst Hassan Rostami wrote in Tasnim News Agency, “Under today’s situation, Omar al-Bashir’s trip to Damascus is of great importance.” The article noted that just eight months into Syria’s civil war, the Arab League suspended Syria, applied economic and political sanctions against Syria, and asked the Syrian army to lay down their arms against the opposition. Rostami says that after seven years, Bashir’s visit is taking place at a time when many Arab leaders are now “reconsidering their position of wanting the overthrow of the Syrian government.”
Rostami noted that unlike before, no country that used to support the armed Syrian opposition — which the article refers to as “terrorists” — speaks of the Syrian president stepping down as a precondition. Instead, the article noted, Turkish officials discuss a “political process” in Syria while Jordan recently opened a bordered crossing. Rostami wrote, “With a correct understanding of the battlefield and strategic changes in the region, Arab countries intend to normalize relations with the Syrian government.”
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