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Syria FM’s Algeria visit signals big shift

30 March 2016 20:11

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Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem is in Algeria on the third day of an official visit in a major sign of political winds shifting in the Assad government’s direction.

Muallem’s visit at the invitation of his Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra marks a major crack in the wall erected under the Saudi leadership to isolate Syria from the rest of the Arab world.

But what is striking is the media blackout which the West and the Arab world in general have maintained throughout the visit, shying away from even mentioning it.

Algeria is the latest addition to the itinerary of the countries which see the Syrian government and nation as the foremost genuine front against the spread of Takfiri extremism.

Muallem summed up the prevailing view in the Algerian polity when he said upon arrival in the capital Algiers that “Algeria and Syria stand in the same trench against terrorism and foreign interference in the internal affairs of states.”

Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal stressed his country’s “firm support” for Syria, hoping peace, security and stability would return to the region.

Algeria’s decision in rolling out the red carpet for the Syrian foreign minister is intriguing.

Africa’s largest country was able to evade the winds of the “Arab Spring” and five years after the event, it has maintained some semblance of stability. By contrast, other major African states, namely Tunisia, Libya and Egypt which were swept by the popular storm, are either in the throes of violence or dictatorship.

In Libya, the popular uprising which toppled Muammar Gaddafi has given way to chaos where a number of unruly armed groups operate across the country and Daesh has built a base, threatening Tunisia and other neighbors.

Egypt, meanwhile, has turned from one dictatorship to another and the very primordial grievances which led to the ouster of a Western-backed regime remain unattended.

In Syria’s case, what was promoted by the West and its allies as another target of the “Arab Spring” turned into a nightmare for the nation as the most violent militants flooded the country in a bid to topple the government there.

The timing of Algeria’s reception of the Syrian foreign minister is significant. It comes at a time of great victories by the Syrian army against militants, including the liberation of the ancient city of Palmyra.

Interestingly enough, many countries across the world, including in Europe, and the United Nations have welcomed and celebrated the victories.

With the Syrian crisis in its sixth year, the government in Damascus is growing in strength and confidence while Takfiris and other militants backed by the West, Saudi Arabia and their allies are gaining in notoriety as bloodthirsty head-choppers and potential bombers.

Some of the countries opposed to the Syrian government are convinced that the priority, at least for now, must be defeating terrorism in Syria, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere.

That explains a recent visit by a French parliamentary delegation to Damascus and its meeting with President Bashar al-Assad. The visit was preceded by an Arab delegation’s trip and reports of secret contacts between the Syrian government and foreign governments.

With Syria being increasingly seen as the beacon of the fight against the Takfiri scourge, more Arab and other foreign capitals are likely to roll out the red carpet for Foreign Minister Muallem in the near future.

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