Bahrain appointed on Thursday its first ambassador to Syria in more than a decade, the latest sign of a stepped-up outreach to Damascus by the Persian Gulf Arab countries.

Iran PressMiddle East: The decree by Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa came as more Arab countries are improving relations with Damascus nearly 11 years since the outbreak of war in Syria that has killed hundreds of thousands and destroyed large parts of the country.

Early in the conflict, Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar rushed to back militants battling President Bashar Assad. Syria was expelled from the 22-member Arab League in 2011. 

The Bahrain News Agency said the king appointed Waheed Mubarak Sayyar as the kingdom’s “ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Syria.” The embassy of Bahrain was reopened in Damascus in 2018.

The foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates visited Damascus last month and met with Assad, sending the clearest signal yet that the Arab world is willing to re-engage with Syria’s government.