The United Arab Emirates reopened its embassy in Damascus on 27 December – the strongest signal yet that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s GCC rivals have resigned themselves to reestablishing relations with the long-maligned leader.

The UAE closed its embassy in 2011 as it cut ties with Damascus in favor of armed opposition forces, but the situation now looks radically different: Assad’s Syrian Arab Army controls almost all major population centers; rebel groups are confined to small border enclaves; and, according to last month’s pronouncement from President Trump, US forces are set to withdraw from Kurdish-held Syrian territory. (CONTINUED - 802 WORDS)