In what looks to be further signs of Syria’s reintegration into the region, Damascus has granted permission for regional aviation giant Qatar Airways to use the country’s airspace.
Syria’s transport ministry announced the decision yesterday in a statement saying: “Transport Minister Ali Hammoud has agreed to allow Qatar Airways to cross Syrian airspace, based on a request from the Qatari civil aviation authority.”
“The agreement came on the principle of reciprocity, as Syrian Air crosses Qatari airspace and never stopped flying to Doha throughout the war,” the statement continued. The statement explained that the use of Syrian airspace would see “increased revenues in hard currency for the benefit of the Syrian state”.
The decision to allow Qatar, which has traditionally supported the Syrian opposition forces, to fly its planes over the war torn Arab Republic is another sign of Syria’s rehabilitation into the region having been suspended from the Arab League in November 2011.
In December, Tunisia resumed direct flights with Syria as the UAE reopened its Damascus embassy. Bahrain subsequently confirming that its consulate and the Syrian diplomatic mission in Manama were also operational.
During the same week Syrian security head Ali Mamlouk made a rare visit to Cairo to meet with his Egyptian counterpart, where the two diplomats reportedly discussed “political, security and counterterrorism issues”.
There have also been calls for Syria to return to the Arab League, with Algeria and Jordan joining Iraq and Lebanon in inviting President Al-Assad to attend the summit scheduled to take place next month, eight years after Syria was suspended.
Saudi Arabia, however has insisted that it is too early to restore diplomatic ties with Syria or reinstate Damascus to the Arab League without progress on a political process to end the eight-year-old war.