Jordan upgrades diplomatic ties with Syria

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The Jordanian embassy in Damascus. (Petra)
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The UAE embassy in Damascus was reopened last month. (AP)
Updated 23 January 2019

Jordan upgrades diplomatic ties with Syria

  • Some Arab countries have been looking to improve relations with Bashar Al-Assad's regime
  • Jordan recalled its ambassador in 2011 but diplomatic ties were never fully severed

JEDDAH: Jordan has appointed a chargé d'affaires to Syria in an upgrade of diplomatic ties.

An unamed Jordanian diplomat with the ranking of advisor will begin work again at the Jordanian embassy in Damascus, a foreign ministry spokesman said. "The decision is inline with the Jordanian stance since the Syrian revolution erupted in 2011," he said.

The decision is the latest move from Arab countries to improve relations with Bashar Al-Assad's government, which was ostracized by many countries in the region when the Syrian war started in 2011.

Last month, the UAE reaopened its embassy in Damascus after seven years and there has been speculation that Syria will be allowed back into the Arab league after it was kicked out in 2011. Bahrain  also plans to reopen its embassy in the Syrian capital.

Sudan president, Omar Al-Bashir, became the first Arab leader to visit Damascus when he traveled there in December.

Jordan recalled its ambassador in 2011 but diplomatic ties were never fully severed, despite Amman's support for some rebel groups fighting Assad's forces.

In recent months there have been signs of an improvement in relations. In October, Jordan reopened a border crossing with Syria that had been closed for three years. The route once carried billions of dollars of trade each year. 

In November, a delegation of Jordanian MPs traveled to Damascus and met Assad in a visit to discuss ways to improve relations.


Iraqi officials raise Friday’s toll to 25 protesters killed

Updated 43 min 21 sec ago

Iraqi officials raise Friday’s toll to 25 protesters killed

  • The attack on Friday was among the deadliest since October 1
  • Security forces regularly use live rounds and tear gas to disperse the demonstrations

BAGHDAD: Iraqi officials raised on Saturday the death toll to 25 protesters killed and over 130 wounded, after a bloody night of attacks by unknown gunmen that targeted anti-government demonstrators in the capital city.
The health and security officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
The attack on Friday was among the deadliest since Oct. 1, when thousands of Iraqis took to the streets calling for sweeping political reforms and the end of Iran’s influence in Iraqi affairs. Security forces regularly use live rounds and tear gas to disperse the demonstrations, leading to heavy casualties.
The gunfire continued until the early hours of Saturday morning. The assailants first unleashed the deadly assault on Baghdad’s Khilani Square and Sinak Bridge, driving through the areas that are the epicenter of the popular uprising. Protesters said the electricity in the square was cut, creating chaos as they ran from the bullets and took cover in nearby mosques and streets.
The attack led to the burning of a car park that demonstrators had converted into a base for their sit-in, while surrounding buildings in the square were pockmarked with bullet holes. On Saturday, protesters raised a bloodied white flag as they sought to return to the scene.
One protester was seen collecting the spent cartridges and held out at least a dozen.
Anti-government activists have sought to blame supporters of Iran-backed Iraqi militias, which have staged similar attacks against protester sit-ins in the capital and the country’s southern cities.
A string of mysterious knife attacks against anti-government protesters also occurred on Thursday in the square, after supporters of the Iran-backed militias attempted their own rival demonstration before withdrawing.
Friday’s deadly attacks came hours after Washington slapped sanctions on the head of Asaib Al-Haq, a powerful Iran-backed militia accused of being behind deadly sniping attacks on protesters. The US Treasury sanctioned leader Qais Al-Khazali, his brother Laith Al-Khazali, who is a commander in the group, and Husain Falih Aziz Al-Lami.
Iraqi security forces were deployed to streets leading to the square by the early morning.