The Changing Dynamics in the UAE–Syria Relationship

Author First name, Last name, Institution

Khalid Almezaini, Zayed University

Document Type

Book Chapter

Source of Publication

The Sciences Po Series in International Relations and Political Economy

Publication Date



The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Syria relations have not been consistent over the past years. Since the formation of the Emirates in 1971, UAE’s behavior toward Syria has been changing due to regional changes and dynamics, relationship with Saudi Arabia and other regional powers, as well as the position of Syria in relation to many issues in the Middle East, i.e., siding with Iran during the Iraq-Iran war. This fluctuating relationship has continued even during the popular uprising in 2011. The Emirates’ position was perceived as being vague. While siding with the aspiration of the Syrian people and opposition movements, it had made some, albeit indirect, links with the Syrian government. This middle ground approach made the Emirates’ position difficult due to the rise of many regional actors involved in the Syria conflict. The Emirates rapprochement with Syria, therefore, appears as resulting from the will to counter Iran and Turkey’s influence, but also from the rising role of Russia. This chapter seeks to examine three main questions: First, how do we explain UAE–Syria relations since the start of the uprising in 2011; second, how does the UAE maintain relations with Syria while working at the regional level to confront the rise of Hezbollah and Iran; and third, how did the UAE manage to re-establish diplomatic relations with Syria? I argue that due to regional dynamics, inability to engage in multiple conflicts simultaneously, the rising role of Russia, as well as UAE’s strategic hedging approach contributed to the change of its behavior toward Syria.


Springer Nature


Social and Behavioral Sciences

Indexed in Scopus


Open Access