At least 100,000 civilians were killed in Syria’s war, according to a tally by a Syrian physician. Now, after six years of fighting, two-thirds of the country has been destroyed, according to the United Nations. This is a man who’s carried out a “peace offensive” in occupied parts of Aleppo and who pledged to “attack the terrorists” in other parts of the country. If one thing made this one of the more gruesome rituals in international politics it was Assad’s attempt to make a surprise visit to meet an old acquaintance.
For this he traveled to Washington, D.C., in October of last year, calling it a “historic and historic visit.” He also met with President Trump in September. Now, too, Assad is in the U.S. — meeting with his historic nemesis, the emir of the United Arab Emirates.
Long a U.S. ally in the Gulf region, the UAE has been on the “war on terror” bandwagon for some time. In 2015, it held a series of al-Qaeda rallies in the country, according to New York Times. The UAE hasn’t been accused of any direct involvement in the war on terror but, in 2015, the organization it’s targeting, Ahrar al-Sham, publicly declared its support for the Taliban. As the war on terror has deepened, the UAE has rapidly become one of the most influential players in the area. According to the Economist, it has “transformed itself from an oil-producing African state into a nuclear power exporting credit, alongside new, sophisticated alliances with Saudi Arabia and the United States.”
Though little is known about the content of these meetings, there are other, easier ways to remain close to one’s enemies and intimate allies in diplomacy: big bombs.