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Bahrain erects portraits of Syria's Assad amid second Arab Summit since reconciliation

May 16, 2024 at 8:40 am

A vehicle moves along a road past a billboard showing the flags of Arab League states ahead of the 33rd Arab League summit in Mamama on May 15, 2024. [MAZEN MAHDI/AFP via Getty Images]

Portraits of Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad have emerged across Bahrain as the Gulf state prepares to host the second Arab Summit since the Syrian dictator was readmitted into the Arab League.

As Bahrain’s capital Manama prepares to host the 33rd Arab Summit today, the Gulf state has been welcoming numerous officials from Arab nations for preparatory meetings. They include some from Syria, with portraits of Al-Assad also shown on billboards throughout the kingdom.

It comes after Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdul Latif Bin Rashid Al-Zayani met with Al-Assad in the Syrin capital Damascus last month, in what was the first such meeting to take place in 13 years since the Assad regime brutally cracked down on peaceful protests and the ongoing civil war in Syria broke out.

Bahrain’s invitation of Al-Assad and Syrian officials to the Arab Summit also comes a year after the Arab League readmitted Syria into its fold, allowing the regime to participate in last year’s summit in Saudi Arabia.

Those invitations have not been without controversy, however, as numerous activists and human rights advocates criticise such moves as the further entrenchment of the Assad regime back into the international community after Syrian security forces and their Russian and Iranian allies – along with affiliated militias – have killed over 300,000 Syrians during the conflict and displaced more than half of the country’s population

Read: Reconciliation with Assad is a strategic mistake and backward step for the Arab world