After the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Arab countries work to save ties with Syria

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A report published by the US newspaper Foreign Policy highlights the possible path that the former Arab partners of the United States could take after the premature withdrawal of US troops from Afghan territory. A measure considered by many to be proof of the failure of the North American country.

The US administration Joe Biden has already given indications that it is willing to look away from the Arab states in the Persian Gulf that are reviving relations with Syrian President Bashar al-Asad, rather than actively preventing them from doing so the publication reveals.

The Neil Quilliam, associate fellow in the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House, notes that Washington has reduced its desire to isolate Syria in the current status quo. That translates into a slight but significant change in US policy regarding applying the heavy anti-Syrian sanction called ‘Caesar Law ‘which has been in place since 2019 and has reduced Syria and neighboring Lebanon to collapse.

In this situation, he stresses that, in recent months, the relations of Arab countries, in particular Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf countries, with the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad have improved considerably, albeit to an extent different and in the search for various objectives.

Some Arab leaders, including those of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and others, appear to have lobbied at the highest level in Washington for sanctions waivers to support expanding their reach into Syria, the article specifies. They were going so far as to speculate that it could be an attempt to gain influence in Syria and lead the reconstruction process in the country devastated by over 11 years of civil war, which has turned into a proxy war between Russia, Turkey, and the United States.

While acknowledging that there are limits to the extent to which the Persian Gulf states can advance their relations, which are heavily influenced by the nascent Syrian politics of the Biden administration and the still broad scope of the Caesar Act sanctions.
Among other factors, Arab leaders undoubtedly recall that former US President Donald Trump first declared victory against Daesh in December 2018. And given the US President Joe Biden’s policy towards Afghanistan, based on a similar ‘mission accomplished’ statement, they will likely prepare for Washington’s exit from Syria.

In conclusion, the “Foreign Policy” report argues that the Persian Gulf Arab states are looking for ways to develop a pan-Arab solution to the war, bring Syria back into the so-called “Arab fold.” If the United States hastily withdraws or reaches a political agreement with Russia, that will give them an advantage.

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