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Syria’s Assad Visits UAE in 1st Trip to Arab State Since Start of War
Syrian President Bashar Assad, left, meets with United Arab Emirates Prime Minister and Emir of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in Abu Dhabi on March 18, 2022. (Government of Dubai - Media Office /Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Syria’s Assad Visits UAE in 1st Trip to Arab State Since Start of War

Syrian President Bashar Assad met in Abu Dhabi with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. Assad’s trip to the United Arab Emirates on Friday is his first visit to an Arab state since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011. Assad also met with Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. The UAE reopened its embassy in Syria in late 2018.

Assad’s only trips outside Syria over the last decade have been to allies Iran and Russia. Several Arab countries are renewing ties with Assad, including Jordan and Lebanon. Syria was kicked out of the Arab League after the start of the Syria civil war 11 years ago.

The US State Department criticized the visit, which it said was an attempt to legitimize and rehabilitate Assad.  US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Washington was “profoundly disappointed and troubled by this apparent attempt to legitimize Bashar al-Assad, who remains responsible and accountable for the death and suffering of countless Syrians, the displacement of more than half of the pre-war Syrian population, and the arbitrary detention and disappearance of over 150,000 Syrian men, women and children.”

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