A little over ten years of trying to topple Bashar al-Assad from power in Syria, European leaders have continued to surprisingly ignore the facts on the ground: the Bashar al-Assad government of Syria is here to stay for the future. As more embassies have begun to reopen in the Syrian capital Damascus, European embassies are markedly absent. Has the time arrived for various governments in Europe to alter their course and make their diplomats go back to Syria?
When foreign ministers of the West and European Union officials speak about Syria, they mostly claim to actually speak (if not act) on behalf of the rest of the whole world. This was the case when French president Emmanuel Macron speaking to the European Parliament said that the airstrikes that were carried out in Syria in 2018 were done for the International Community.
Such sentiments are just out of touch with reality. Aside from Russia, China and India never broke off ties with Syria and other countries have already begun to mend ties. When the fighting erupted in 2011, the Arab League voted to suspend Syria from the League but is currently changing this decision.
Not only have Algeria and Egypt both supported the Syrian regime but monarchies in the Gulf region such as Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates have also changed course and reopened their various embassies with a direct flight between the Syrian capital and their capitals began already. If former backers of the opposition movement in Syria have abandoned a failed policy, why can’t the Western ones also do the same?
In the European theatre, the desire to reopen diplomatic ties between European countries and the Syrian regime already exists. Greece appointed a special envoy to Syria last year and this year, Cyprus has already begun renting a property that will eventually be converted to an embassy. Meanwhile, the Czech Republic has had its ambassador in the country and never withdrew from Syria. Austria, Hungary, Italy, and Poland are just a couple of countries that have made hints of wanting to create a new foreign policy but haven’t taken the leap of faith yet.
As Denmark has started to strip some Syrians of their residency permits in the country for the reason that Damascus and its adjacent areas are safe, governments in Europe continue to play deaf to reality. No alliance or any kind of rebel group in Syria is presently threatening the very existence of the Assad regime.