Oman reinstates ambassador to Syria

Syria’s foreign minister accepts the credentials of Oman’s Ambassador Turki bin Mahmood Al-Busaidy. (ONA)
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Updated 05 October 2020

Oman reinstates ambassador to Syria

  • Oman is first Gulf Arab state to restore an ambassador in Damascus since many shut their embassies in 2012

DUBAI: Oman has sent an ambassador to Syria, becoming the first Gulf Arab state to do so after they downgraded or shut missions in Damascus in 2012 over attacks by the government there on protests at the start of the war.
Oman is one of the rare Arab countries that kept diplomatic relations with the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad after the 2011 uprising, despite pressure from the United States and other 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 pro-government forces in the conflict, aiming to expand their clout in Syria at the expense of non-Arab Turkey and Iran, who have backed Assad.
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 UAE re-opened its mission to Damascus in late 2018 in a diplomatic boost to Assad, and has a charge d’affaires there.
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 Iranian-backed Shite Muslim groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
The United States has imposed new sanctions aimed at cutting off funds for Assad’s government and warned that anyone doing business with Damascus was also at risk of being blacklisted.


Over 3 million virus cases reported in Mideast

Labourers, wearing protective face masks, disinfect the front of restaurant in Dubai's marina on March 16, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 31 October 2020

Over 3 million virus cases reported in Mideast

  • Labourers, wearing protective face masks, disinfect the front of restaurant in Dubai's marina on March 16, 2020

DUBAI: The number of reported coronavirus cases has gone over 3 million in the Middle East, an Associated Press count showed on Friday, with the true number likely even higher.
Across the Mideast, there have been over 75,000 deaths attributed to the virus by health authorities, the AP count relying on reported figures by individual countries shows.
There have been 2.5 million recoveries from the virus causing the COVID-19 illness.
In the Mideast, the hardest-hit nation remains Iran, which served as the initial epicenter of the virus in the region. In Iran alone, authorities say there have been over 600,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, with some 477,000 recoveries and 34,000 deaths. Yet even those numbers are believed to be low, Iranian officials say.

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Deaths have been reported in the Middle East region due to the coronavirus, according to health authorities.

In some war-torn nations, it remains difficult to know the scope of the pandemic as well. In Yemen for instance, it’s believed that the vast majority of the country’s cases have gone undiagnosed and untreated, and health workers have said only those who are near death are usually brought to hospitals.