FILE - In this file photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA Dec. 16, 2018, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, meets with Sudan's President Omar Bashir in Damascus, Syria. Assad has survived years of war and millions of dollars in money and weapons aimed at toppling him. Now after nearly eight years of conflict, he is poised to be readmitted to the fold of Arab nations, a feat once deemed unthinkable as he brutally crushed a years-long uprising against his family’s rule. (SANA via AP, File)

Arab nations inch toward rehabilitating Syria's Assad

January 13, 2019 - 5:17 am

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian President Bashar Assad is poised to be readmitted to the fold of Arab nations, a feat deemed unthinkable eight years ago as he forcefully crushed the uprising against his family's rule.

Gulf Arab nations, once the main backers of rebels fighting Assad, are lining up to reopen their embassies in Syria, worried about leaving the country to regional rivals Iran and Turkey and missing out on lucrative post-war reconstructive projects.

Key border crossings with neighbors, shuttered for years by the war, have reopened, and Arab commercial airlines are reportedly considering resuming flights to Damascus.

And as President Donald Trump plans to pull out America's 2,000 soldiers from northeastern Syria, government troops are primed to retake the area they abandoned in 2012 at the height of the war.