Assad aide in Egypt as world warms up to Damascus

A senior adviser to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has visited Egypt at the invitation of the Egyptian intelligence chief amid efforts by world countries to embrace the Arab country.

Head of Syria’s National Security Bureau Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk arrived in Egypt on Saturday to discuss political and security issues, including counter-terrorism efforts, the official Syrian Arab News Agency reported on Sunday.

Mamlouk visited Egypt last time in 2016 when Cairo kept up security contacts with Damascus despite a general snub in the Arab world. Cairo has reportedly negotiated some of the reconciliation deals between the Syrian government and militant groups.

On Sunday, Saudi-owned al-Arabiya news network reported that Jordan was also seeking to restore its ties with Syria, putting it down to Syria’s military gains that have secured their common border.

The broadcaster said a Jordanian parliamentary delegation had recently visited the Syrian capital and taken back a message from President Assad to King Abdullah II.

“Today, as the Syrian army has expanded its control over most of Syria and restored large parts of the country that have been under the control of armed and terrorist groups for years, including areas bordering Jordan, there are signs that the two countries are normalizing ties gradually,” the network said.

Earlier this month, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arrived in Damascus in the first such visit by an Arab leader since Syria found itself in the clutches of foreign-backed militancy in 2011.

Under the influence of Persian Gulf monarchies, the Arab League suspended Syria’s membership at the end of that year, and many Arab countries closed their embassies or downgraded their ties with Damascus.

However, there have been growing calls in the Arab world in recent months to normalize ties with Syria, and last week the Arab Parliament called on the Arab League to end its suspension of Syria’s membership at the 22-member body.

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