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Archive for Syria

Newsline: Saudi diplomats arrive in Syria for embassy reopening

A Saudi Arabian team arrived in Damascus to discuss mechanisms for reopening the embassy in Syria, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry announced on Twitter. The Saudi technical team concerned with reopening the Saudi embassy in Syria has arrived in the capital, Damascus, in implementation of the Kingdom’s decision to resume work in its diplomatic mission in Baghdad. The Saudi Press Agency, “SPA”, stated that the Saudi technical team met with the Assistant Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs. (https://en.mehrnews.com/news/201261/Saudi-team-arrives-in-Syria-for-embassy-reopening) During the meeting, the head of the Saudi team expressed his thanks to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for the warm welcome the team received and facilitating access procedures, while Dr. Soussan expressed their welcome, readiness and readiness to provide all facilities and support to facilitate the mission of the Saudi team, according to “SPA”. Saudi Arabia recently announced the resumption of the work of its diplomatic mission in Syria, taking into account the decision issued by the meeting of foreign ministers of Arab countries to return Syria to its seat in the League of Arab States.

Newsline: Saudi top diplomat visits Damascus easing Syria’s isolation

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Damascus in the most significant step yet towards ending Syria’s decade-long regional isolation, and at a time of wider rapprochement in the region. The meeting discussed steps needed for a political solution to Syria’s conflict that would preserve its Arab identity and return it to “its Arab surroundings”, Saudi state media said. Assad said the kingdom’s “open and realistic policies” benefited the region, Syria’s state news agency reported. (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/saudi-fm-land-syria-tuesday-first-visit-since-conflict-syrian-information-2023-04-18/) The statements made no mention of an Arab League summit that Riyadh is due to host next month. On Friday, Gulf Arab foreign ministers and their counterparts from Egypt, Iraq and Jordan discussed Syria’s possible return to the body at a meeting in Saudi Arabia, but no agreement was reached. It was the first visit of a top diplomat from Arab powerhouse Saudi Arabia to Damascus since ties were ruptured in 2011.

Newsline: Syria, Tunisia to exchange ambassadors

Syria and Tunisia will reopen their respective embassies, the two countries said on Wednesday, almost a decade after Tunis severed ties. On Wednesday, Syria’s government said in a statement it had accepted the appointment of a Tunisian ambassador in Damascus and would reopen its own embassy in Tunis with a new envoy there as well. (https://news.yahoo.com/syria-tunisia-exchange-ambassadors-end-121431936.html) The announcement further chipped away at Syria’s isolation in the Arab world arising from its decade-long civil war, which killed hundreds of thousands of people, drew in numerous foreign powers and splintered the country, destabilising the wider region. Tunisia reopened a limited diplomatic mission in Damascus in 2017, in part to help track more than 3,000 Tunisian Islamist militants fighting in Syria.

Newsline: Egypt’s top diplomat visits Syria and Turkey first time in decade

Egypt’s foreign minister met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Monday in the first visits to Syria and Turkey by a top Egyptian diplomat in a decade. “The goal of the visit is primarily humanitarian, and to pass on our solidarity – from the leadership, the government and the people of Egypt to the people of Syria,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told reporters in Damascus. Egypt was looking forward to providing more quake assistance “in full coordination with the Syrian government” after already having donated some 1,500 tonnes, Shoukry added, standing alongside Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad. “When the foreign minister of Egypt comes to Damascus, he comes to his home, his people, and his country,” Mekdad said. (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/egypts-foreign-minister-visits-syria-first-time-since-war-2023-02-27/) The earthquake killed more than 5,900 people in Syria, the bulk of them in the rebel-held northwest. In Turkey, the death toll stands at more than 44,000. Assad has benefited from an outpouring of Arab support since devastating earthquakes hit his country and neighbouring Turkey this month, helping to ease the diplomatic isolation he has faced over Syria’s civil war which began in 2011. The Arab League suspended Syria in 2011 over the government’s deadly crackdown on protests, and many U.S.-allied Arab states backed the opposition seeking to topple Assad. But a number of Arab states, most prominently the United Arab Emirates, have shifted approach towards normalising ties in recent years, after Assad defeated his insurgent enemies across much of the country helped by Iran and Russia. Shoukry did not respond to reporters’ questions on whether Egypt would support lifting the Arab League’s suspension of Syria.

Newsline: Syrian Ambassador’s Friend Made a Million Selling Him an Embassy in Romania’s Capital

The Art Deco-style mansion at 47 Paris Street in Bucharest was never going to be cheap. It measures over a thousand square meters, sits in a prime neighborhood favored by diplomats, and was built by legendary Romanian engineer Emil Prager in 1933. But it still raised eyebrows among some in Romania’s capital when the white stone building shot up in value by a million euros in under a week in 2009. Even more unusually, the mansion passed through the hands of a widowed pensioner who lived in a Communist-era public housing block in southwest Bucharest. Leana Pielmus, then 58, bought it on September 10 for 3.5 million euros (the equivalent of US$5 million). The average pension in Romania at the time was 162 euros per month. Pielmus sold it a week later to the Syrian Foreign Ministry for 4.46 million euros (US$6.6 million), according to sales contracts obtained by journalists from OCCRP partners RISE Project and SIRAJ. (https://www.occrp.org/en/investigations/how-a-syrian-ambassadors-friend-made-a-million-selling-him-an-embassy) The deal, which has never been reported in the mainstream media, was brokered by her son-in-law, Ammar Aoun, a dentist who counts the Syrian ambassador to Romania among his friends. Dissidents argue that Bucharest has become a European hub for the illicit financial networks of Assad and his wealthy cousin, Rami Makhlouf, who is married to the daughter of the Syrian ambassador. That ambassador, Walid Othman, is among Assad’s closest associates. He has been at his diplomatic post in Romania for 13 years, despite having blown past the mandatory retirement age of 65. Ambassador Othman and the Syrian Foreign Ministry declined to say whether the deal followed public procurement rules or if the Syrian government investigated the potential conflict of interest. Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the question of how the Syrian Embassy was purchased was outside its purview. But Camelia Bogdan, a Romanian judge with expertise in money laundering, said the transaction raised red flags that should have been reported to authorities. Romania and Syria have had close diplomatic ties since the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. The former communist dictator had a warm relationship with Assad’s father, Hafez al-Assad, who ruled Syria with an iron grip for nearly three decades. In March 2011, the European Union imposed sanctions on the Syrian strongman and his close associates, which are still in place. Romania is one of a few EU countries that have nevertheless maintained diplomatic relations with the Syrian regime throughout the civil war.

Newsline: Oman becomes first Gulf state to reinstate ambassador in Syria

Oman has sent an ambassador to Syria, becoming the first Gulf Arab state to do so after they downgraded or shut missions in Damascus in 2012 over the government’s brutal response to protests at the start of what turned into a war. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/10/5/oman-becomes-first-gulf-state-to-reinstate-ambassador-in-syria) Oman is one of the rare Arab countries that maintained diplomatic relations with the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad after the 2011 uprising, despite pressure from the United States and other Gulf allies. Syria’s foreign minister on Sunday accepted the credentials of Oman’s Ambassador Turki bin Mahmood al-Busaidy, appointed to the post by royal decree in March, state news agency ONA said.

Newsline: Syrian embassy in Lebanon says 43 Syrians killed in Beirut explosion

As many as 43 Syrians were killed in the mega blast that shook the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Tuesday, state news agency SANA reported on Saturday. Citing a statement by the Syrian embassy in Lebanon, the report said the death toll is not final as search for missing people and casualties is ongoing. (http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-08/08/c_139275349.htm) Facilitations have been provided for returning some of the bodies to Syria and bury others in Lebanon, said the embassy, adding that coordination will continue with the Lebanese authorities to search for the missing people. At least 154 people were killed in the massive explosion and more than 6,000 others injured, but numbers are expected to rise as the search for the missing people continues.

Newsline: Chile to shut down its embassies in Greece, Denmark, Algeria, Syria and Romania

The Chilean ambassadors of Greece, Denmark, Algeria, Syria and Romania were informed, that they will have to finish their affairs before the end of the year, 24 Horas reported. The closure of the embassies are occurring in order to provide a greater national presence in Brussels, considered the unofficial capital of the European Union, as well as in Vienna (Austria). (https://greekcitytimes.com/2020/06/08/chile-to-shut-down-its-embassy-in-athens/) The measure was taken by Foreign Minister Teodoro Ribera, after the Strategic Planning Directorate asked to evaluate the political, economic and development relevance of the different nations where Chile has embassies.

Newsline: Libyan government condemns Damascus embassy move

The U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) on Wednesday denounced Bashar Assad regime’s decision to hand over the Libyan Embassy in Damascus to Khalifa Haftar’s government. In a statement, the GNA’s Foreign Ministry said the handover “violates U.N. Security Council resolution prohibiting dealing with any parallel bodies to the GNA, which is the only legitimate government in the country.” (https://www.dailysabah.com/politics/libyan-govt-condemns-giving-embassy-in-damascus-to-illegal-haftar/news) The Tripoli-seated ministry stressed that the move was “a violation of the sovereignty of the Libyan state.” On Tuesday, the Assad government reopened the Libyan Embassy in Damascus after an eight-year hiatus and handed it over to Haftar’s government. Syria has become the first to officially recognize Haftar’s government, which does not have international recognition.

Newsline: Libya’s eastern government opens Damascus embassy

Libya’s eastern-based government linked to military commander Khalifa Haftar opened an embassy in Syria on Tuesday and called for the two countries to unite in their common fight against Turkey-backed militant groups. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-syria-libya/libyas-eastern-government-opens-damascus-embassy-pledges-united-fight-against-turkey-idUSKBN20Q1GJ) Syria has faced resistance from Turkish forces allied to rebels in its northeast. Libya has two governments, one based in the capital Tripoli and widely recognized internationally, and another based in the east. Eastern commander Haftar has launched an assault to capture Tripoli, and is fighting forces aligned with the government there which are backed militarily by Turkey. “Terrorism will kill any Arab country if it’s permitted and if the criminal (President Tayyip) Erdogan is permitted to win this fight,” Syria’s deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad said at a ceremony to open the embassy. President Bashar al-Assad has looked to shed his country’s pariah status and regain Arab support. The United Arab Emirates, which backs Haftar in Libya, re-opened its Damascus embassy in December 2018 and has forged closer ties after once supporting rebels fighting against Assad. Libya’s diplomatic missions are generally aligned with the government based in Tripoli, but diplomats in some foreign capitals have supported the rival government based in the east.