DAMASCUS (Dispatches) -- Oman has sent an ambassador to Syria, becoming the first Persian Gulf Arab state to do so after they downgraded or shut missions in Damascus in 2012 at the start of a foreign-backed war on the Arab country.
Oman is one of the rare Arab countries that kept diplomatic relations with the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad after the 2011 sedition, despite pressure from the United States and other Persian Gulf allies.
Syria’s foreign minister on Sunday accepted the credentials of Oman’s Ambassador Turki bin Mahmood al-Busaidy, appointed to the post in a royal decree in March, state news agency ONA said.
Some Arab states are seeking reconciliation with Damascus after decisive gains by government forces in the conflict, aiming to expand their clout in Syria.
Oman, whose Sultan Haitham pledged when assuming power in January to continue maintaining friendly ties with all nations, kept its embassy open, as did Bahrain.
The United Arab Emirates re-opened its mission to Damascus in late 2018 in a diplomatic boost to President Assad, and has a charge d’affaires there.
The UAE was one of several regional states to back terrorist groups in Syria, though its role was less prominent than those of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which have so far held off re-establishing ties with Damascus.
Kuwait has said it would re-open its mission in Damascus if there is agreement in the Arab League, which suspended Syria’s membership in 2011.
Assad has recovered control of most of Syria with support from Russia along with Iran and resistance groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
The United States has imposed new sanctions aimed at cutting off funds for Syria and warned that anyone doing business with Damascus was also at risk of being blacklisted.
On Sunday, President Assad said apart from helping Syria fight terrorism, Russia’s military presence in the Arab country is important to ensuring international order.
"The Russian military role in Syria – particularly the role of military bases [on the Syrian soil] – can be viewed from two perspectives; the first is fighting terrorism, which we call international terrorism,” he said in an interview with Russia’s Zvezda television channel, according to a transcript provided by the official Syrian Arab News Agency. "This will end one day or at least it will be weakened as a result of the continuing battles to eliminate it,” he added. "So, what comes after this terrorism? The other perspective is related to the role of Russia in the world. Today, we live in an international jungle; we do not live under international law,” Assad said. The current disorderly global situation, he said, had been caused by a lack of adherence to international law for around a quarter of a century.
"International balance requires a Russian role: politically – in international organizations, and militarily – through military bases,” the Syrian head of state said.
The remarks came on the fifth anniversary of Russia’s military intervention in Syria that began at Damascus’ request as the Arab country was overwhelmed by foreign-backed violence.
Russia runs an airbase, known as Hmeimim, in the northwestern Syrian province of Latakia, and the Tartus naval facility on the country’s Mediterranean coast. Last August, a Russian government document surfaced showing that Damascus had agreed to allow Moscow to expand the Hmeimim airbase.
Since entering Syria, the Russian military has been staging airstrikes from the former outpost that, together with Iranian military advisory support, has enabled the country to reclaim most of the territory that it had lost to violence by foreign-backed militants and Takfiri terrorists.
According to Assad, when Moscow became involved in Syria, the Arab nation was facing multi-pronged advances by terrorists, who were receiving "direct support from the United States, France, the UK, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia; in addition to the indirect support from other Western countries.”
He, meanwhile, noted that Moscow would not need to engage in military activity in overseas bases if the West abandoned the use of military force to create problems around the world.
"But for now, Russia and the world need the balance that I have mentioned,” the Syrian president stated.