10/05/2018, 11.04
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Assad: 'A strong understanding with the Gulf States'. Uncertainty shrouds Idlib

The Syrian leader grants his first interview to a Gulf newspaper since the beginning of the war. He does not mention the nations, but confirms the arrival of Arab and Western delegations to Damascus. The goal is to reopen the diplomatic representations. In the last rebellious enclave, last appeal for agreement between Russia and Turkey.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Syria is ready to sign a "great understanding" with some Gulf States, after years of conflict and hostility exacerbated in these seven years of civil war in Syria. This was stated by Syrian President Basjar al-Assad, in an interview with the Kuwait newspaper Al-Shahed, the first to a Gulf newspaper since March 2011, and published these days.

In the interview, the leader of Damascus does not specifically mention the countries, but confirms that for some time delegations of Arab and Western nations have begun to visit Syria. The goal, adds Assad, is to reopen embassies and diplomatic missions. Soon the war will end, he assures, and the country will return to play "a leading role" in the region.

The presence of Syria within the 22 members of the Arab League was interrupted at the beginning of the war; in the following months, several regional nations imposed economic and commercial sanctions, after many vain attempts at mediation for the end of the war.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council have openly supported the anti-Assad opposition and pro-extremist rebel groups. Kuwait has in the past hosted a conference of donor countries in Syria, openly criticizing the government of Damascus and its leaders.

The interview with Assad comes a few days after the surprising meeting between the Syrian Foreign Minister and his counterpart from Bahrain on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly held in New York. The two diplomats exchanged handshakes and hugs in favor of the camera, showing an atmosphere of great cordiality. A further sign of a possible change of (some) Gulf countries towards Assad, while the winds of war seem to calm down.

Meanwhile, Idlib is working to implement the agreement reached by Russia and Turkey, which has effectively blocked the offensive planned by the government army for the reconquest of the last bastion still held by opposition groups (and jihadists). The rebels must remove the heavy weapons from the demilitarized zone by October 10 and the jihadist movements leave the area by 3pm today. But with the approach of the deadlines, little or nothing seems to have changed on the ground.

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