While Biden focuses on China, his Arab allies are chumming up to ...

World

While Biden focuses on China, his Arab allies are chumming up to Syria

Relations with Bashar al-Assad are thawing at a time Syria doesn’t appear to be a foreign policy priority for the US

Maha El Dahan

While Bashar al-Assad is still shunned by the West, which blames 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...

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