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The Guardian: Assad’s allies are seeking to rehabilitate him After 10 years of bloodshed

The British Guardian newspaper published a report under the title“Assad the outcast being sold to the west as key to peace in Middle East,” in which it saw that “foreign allies are seeking  to rehabilitate Bashar al-Assad after 10 years of bloodshed.”

The report stated that for nearly a decade, he was an outcast who struggled to secure a date abroad or even establish himself among his visitors. Largely alone in his palace, save for trusted aides, Bashar al-Assad presided over a broken state some friends of which demanded a humiliating price for their protection, and were not afraid to show it.

The Guardian referred that during regular trips to Syria, Vladimir Putin organized meetings at Russian bases, forcing Assad to follow him to receptions. Iran has too easily imposed its will, often dictating military conditions, or sidelining Bashar Al-Assad from decisions that have shaped the course of his country.

Instead of being the epicenter of the Middle East’s demise, Syria has become a focal point of plans to restore post-Arab Spring stability. Over the past 12 months, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have sent officials to the Syrian capital to meet with its spy bosses. Egypt and Qatar also made overtures. Jordan, meanwhile, implored the United States to help with Syria’s reintegration and suggested it was best placed to help.

Earlier this month, Washington put on its own play that will add to Assad’s resurgence. In an attempt to resolve Lebanon’s energy crisis, the US Embassy in Beirut announced a plan to send Egyptian natural gas via Jordan and Syria. The proposal gave Assad a vested interest in finding a solution for Lebanon – a turn of events that many in the Lebanese capital say will once again bring the country under Syrian rule.

“At the very least, the two economic crises [Lebanon and Syria] are now integrated, ”said a European diplomat. “So much for sovereign solutions. Does the United States really understand what they have been doing here? All these years of talk about state building. And then in the end, you hand the mess over to Bashar who played a leading role in the murder of both countries. “

Assad was unusually quick to agree to the deal, which would see Syria take some of the Egyptian gas for its own needs, as it did when an Iranian-supplied diesel tanker destined for Lebanon was unloaded. in mid-September in its port of Baniyas. To mark the occasion, he invited Lebanese ministers to the border where – straight from Putin’s playbook – his officials displayed only the Syrian flag.

“The Lebanese ministers should have stood up and left,” said Mirna Khalifa, a Beirut-based researcher. “But beggars cannot choose. And now we have been forced to go begging at Bashar again.

Visiting Washington in August, King Abdullah of Jordan urged members of Congress on the need to re-engage Assad. The plan appeared to be aimed at restoring Jordan’s intermediary role under the Biden administration – and offloading the financial burden of large numbers of Syrians still on Jordanian soil, many of whom are refugees.

“Jordan could conduct an initial engagement with the regime to secure its engagement before wider contacts are initiated,” said a briefing note prepared by Abdullah.Vladimir Putin greets Bashar al-Assad at a meeting in Moscow in early September. Photograph: Mikhael Klimentyev / Sputnik / EPA

Malik al-Abdeh, a Syrian observer close to the Syrian opposition, said: “What the regime is desperately seeking is to end US and European sanctions and restore diplomatic relations with Arab countries and the West. King Abdullah seems to put them on the table and say ‘let’s give them to Assad in exchange for limited behavior change’.

“Assad will not enter into a transactional relationship as described in the document. Instead, it will likely exploit the channels open to it to undermine the influence of Western / Arab states. “

Another dynamic has helped draw Assad into the fold: the rise of Saudi Arabian heir to the throne, Mohammed bin Salman, and his attempting to overhaul the kingdom – far from a rigid theological regime where Clerics compete with rulers for power, for an Arab nationalist police state – of the type Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi would instinctively recognize.

An influential aide to a regional leader said Assad feels emboldened by the new focus. “The Saudis have sent their spy chief, and the Emiratis want to do business with him. And now the Americans and the Jordanians. It has become unmanageable. He insists that he will not compromise on Syria and that all Americans must leave Deir Azzour. He even demanded that he have a say in where they retreat.

In the northeastern Syrian town of Qamishli, where the country’s Kurds dominate local affairs, Assad’s constant resurgence has not gone unnoticed. Here he is seen as a Pyrrhic winner of a war of attrition more than a strategist; his survival due to Syria’s historic role in the region and the way the modern state was built by his late father, Hafez al-Assad.

“Hafez made sure that if one arm of his regime fell, there would be earthquakes elsewhere. This is what happened, ”said Ako Abdullah, a communications technician. “The consequences have become too heavy for everyone and people have lost patience. “

A second Syrian in Qamishli, an anti-Assad merchant who called himself Abu Laith, said the world was beginning to forget the decade of Syria’s destruction. “They left Afghanistan, and now us,” he said. “Soon Bashar will be back at the UN and the sanctions will be lifted. He will control Lebanon again. History should be a teacher.

Toby Cadman, a British lawyer working on war crimes prosecutions who focused on Syria, warned against re-engagement with Assad. “This is not a regime with which we should consider re-establishing diplomatic relations. The recent rapprochement of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar is something that we must approach with great concern.

“There can be no peace, stability or reconciliation without a process aimed at justice and accountability. We have let down the Syrian people over the past decade. Let us not cover the cracks of instability and injustice with a final act of surrender. “

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