On Sunday, October 4, 2020, Syria announced, through Syrian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign and Expatriates Minister, Walid al-Muallim, that it had officially received the credentials of the first Omani ambassador, Turki bin Mahmood al-Busaidy, to the country since the revolution against the regime began in 2011.
Even after the uprising, Oman maintained diplomatic relations with the Syrian government, despite warnings from the US and other Gulf countries. And now, the Sultanate becomes the first Gulf country to reinstate an ambassador in Syria.
During the reception, the Syrian PM expressed Syria’s appreciation for the Omani foreign policy, wishing the ambassador success in his duties and hoping that the relations between the two brotherly countries will see more progress and development. In response, the Sultanate’s ambassador expressed his thanks for the warm welcome and the support and facilitation provided by the Syrian government to enhance the cooperation and joint interests of the two brotherly countries.
“Turki Bin Mahmood al-Busaidy has been accepted as the new Omani ambassador to Syria,” the Syrian presidency announced on Facebook.
This step from Oman has its roots in the relatively new moves of the Gulf countries with regards to their foreign policy in Syria.
In this context, in December 2018, the UAE announced that it would be reopening its embassy in Damascus (with a charge d’affaires there), marking another significant diplomatic boost for President Bashar al-Assad. A Foreign Ministry statement said the move aimed to normalize ties and to curb risks of regional interference in “Arab, Syrian affairs” – an apparent reference to non-Arab Iran, whose support for al-Assad has been critical to his war effort. The following day, Bahrain announced that its embassy in Damascus was fully operational.
In January the following year, the UAE, Bahrain, and Oman resumed flights to Damascus. During this entire period, Bahrain and Oman kept their embassies in Syria open.
Oman’s late leader Sultan Qaboos had adhered to a strict policy of non-intervention in regional affairs and maintained ties with Syria after the 2011 uprising turned into the ongoing violent civil war, saying Oman’s role in the conflict would be to provide humanitarian support.
Kuwait has said it would re-open its mission in Damascus if there is an agreement in the Arab League, which suspended Syria’s membership in 2011. Also, Arab countries sanctioned Damascus and condemned its use of military force against the opposition
Currently, the situation in Syria seems to be stabilizing and some Arab states are seeking reconciliation with Damascus, due to Assad forces have recaptured most of the country, with support from Russia and Iranian-backed militias. However, the US imposed new sanctions aimed at cutting support for Assad’s government and warned that anyone doing business with Damascus would be at risk of being blacklisted.