Bahrain resumes work at embassy in Damascus

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Bahrain on Friday announced that "work is continuing at its embassy" in Syria, reflecting a new push by Gulf Arab states to improve relations with President Bashar Assad as the war winds down.

Almost seven years since it was lowered, the UAE flag was raised again at its Damascus embassy during a ceremony attended by diplomats and journalists. "We stand with it in protecting its sovereignty and its territory from any violation", he tweeted.

The United Arab Emirates had announced earlier on Thursday the reopening of its embassy in Damascus. The concerted moves come seven years after Gulf Arab states recalled their ambassadors and shuttered their embassies in Syria to isolate Assad. Arab countries have sanctioned Damascus and condemned its use of military force against the opposition. Now the diplomatic ties are being restored.

Syria was suspended from the Arab League in November 2011, as the death toll was escalating and several regional powers bet on Assad's demise.

It is now believed the majority of its 22-country membership are in favour of it being re-admitted.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the UAE, Anwar Gargash, said on Thursday that the decision to return Syria to the Arab League requires Arab consensus, Trend reports referring to Al Arabiya.

Khalifa later defended the meeting in an interview, saying it was unplanned and calling Syria a "brotherly, Arab nation".

The regional body has said that, while no consensus had yet been reached, Assad's attendance and Syria's reintegration into the organization were on the table.

Earlier this month, Sudanese President Omar Bashir became the first Arab head of state to visit Damascus since the start of the Syrian conflict, flying into Damascus airport.

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On Thursday afternoon, the UAE flag was hoisted over the embassy in Damascus for the first time in seven years amid a diplomatic presence of Iraq, Sudan, Tunisia, and Algeria.

His military advances gathered pace this year with the defeat of the last big rebel enclaves near Damascus and recovery of the southwestern region at the border with Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Eight years after the start of the conflict, President Assad has now regained control of much of the territory thanks to the decisive support of Iran and Russian Federation, as well as Hezbollah's Lebanese Shiite militias.

Arab state support was funneled to Syrian rebels through a program overseen by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency until President Donald Trump ordered it shut down a year ago.

Trump also claimed that Saudi Arabia had agreed to finance Syria's enormous reconstruction needs.

In fact U.S. president Donald Trump even claimed that the neighbouring country of Saudi Arabia has also agreed to spend the money needed to help rebuild Syria.

Last week's announcement by the White House that USA troops would be pulled out also cleared the path for Turkey to muscle in on Kurdish areas in northeastern Syria.

Egyptian state-run media have called for Syria to be reinstated. The president had long called on other coalition members to pitch in more money.

The same day, Trump called the $230 million in proposed USA aid "ridiculous".

It remains to be seen who will shoulder the burden of those costs.