By Nabilah Saleh
KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 (NNN-Bernama) — Syrian charge d’affairs in Kuala Lumpur Mhd Ghiath Ibrahim (picture) hopes to see the reopening of the Malaysian embassy in Damascus to better facilitate diplomatic and bilateral ties between the two countries.
Malaysia’s mission in the Syrian capital city remains closed after the Malaysian Foreign Ministry (Wisma Putra) in 2012 withdrew its diplomats and staff members and ordered a temporary closure due to the escalating conflict in the country.
Mhd Ghiath feels the reopening is even more timely today as the embassy will serve as the “main door” to many coordinations and engagements between both sides, especially in delivering humanitarian aid to help Syrian people and internally displaced persons (IDPs).
“Reopening the Malaysian embassy will facilitate many important things that both countries could work on. It will be the main factor in almost all aspects and potential areas of cooperation.
“Furthermore, it can give us that channel to portray the accurate and exact image, as well as reports on the actual situation in Syria. What more on the safety part in our country, without relying on third party news sources,” he said after paying a courtesy call on Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama)’s Chairman Senator Ras Adiba Radzi at its headquarters here, Wednesday.
Mhd Ghiath also provided some insight into his country – including the fact that it is open to visitors, and that Syria is also a multi-religious and multi-cultural nation just like Malaysia.
In another development, Mhd Ghiath expressed his gratitude towards the Malaysian government and the humanitarian organisations here for their support in providing education to the Syrian refugees in Malaysia.
“I appreciate these thoughtful efforts done by the Malaysian government, as well as its NGOs. We could feel that the Syrians are feeling safe and stable here.
“With the education they gained in Malaysia, we hope they’ll return to Syria as the situation improves. The experiences and benefits they receive here could further help the Syrian government to rebuild the infrastructure back home. We welcome these steps initiated by the Malaysian side here,” he said.
On whether the embassy here plans to bring Syrians back home, Ibrahim said: “It’s really up to Syrians here whether they want to go back or not. As stated in the international agreements, we cannot force any citizens to go back to their country unless he/she agrees to do so.”
“I believe, the main reason why they might hesitate to come back is due to the current economic situation caused by the sanctions imposed on the country right now. We are pretty sure that if the economic situation improves, they will return,” he added.
According to the UNCHR refugee agency, more than five million Syrians are now living as refugees – with the majority in neighbouring Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt. As of August 2019, Malaysia hosted 3,200 Syrian refugees.
Syria had been going through a civil war that began in 2011, ignited by the Arab Spring protest and deep discontent with the Syrian government where it escalated into a full-scale armed conflict. The government, led by President Bashar al-Assad, has managed to wrest control of many parts of the country from various groups, but the country has been facing an economic meltdown since 2021 due to international sanctions. (photoBERNAMA)