The Biden administration was caught off guard last Friday when Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE), sources with direct knowledge of the issue told Axios.
Assad’s visit, which was his first to an Arab country since the Syrian war erupted 11 years ago, added more tension to the already strained relations between the U.S and the UAE.
The Biden administration learned about the visit from the media and the White House and State Department officials felt blindsided, according to Axios.
On March 18th, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said “We are profoundly disappointed and troubled by this apparent attempt to legitimize Bashar al-Assad.”
“Assad remains responsible and accountable for the death and suffering of countless Syrians, the displacement of more than half of the pre-war Syrian population, and the arbitrary detention and disappearance of over 150,000 Syrian men, women, and children,” Price added.
Several Israeli media outlets said talks in the trilateral summit held in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh among the Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, and the Emirati Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan focused on Assad’s visit to the UAE.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.