Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad continues to be brought “in from the cold” and back into the Arab regional fold at rapid pace, with Reuters confirming on Thursday the prior rumors that Saudi Arabia and Syria were on the brink of fully restoring diplomatic ties. They will now reopen embassies – a huge step. Is a return to the Arab League next?
“Syria and Saudi Arabia have agreed to reopen their embassies after cutting diplomatic ties more than a decade ago, three sources with knowledge of the matter said, a step that would mark a leap forward in Damascus’s return to the Arab fold,” Reuters reports.
The mutual embassy openings reportedly are the result of talks between the Saudis and a senior Syrian intelligence official. A source told Reuters they “preparing to reopen embassies after Eid al-Fitr,” in reference to a Muslim holiday in late April.
Most recently, the United Arab Emirates hosted Assad and his wife in an official visit – the first in well over a decade.
The US and Israel have not been happy at these developments, and the Syria-Gulf rapprochement also comes in the context of Iran and Saudi Arabia normalizing relations. One source told Al Jazeera:
“The prevailing attitude can be defined as, ‘times have changed, the Arab Spring is history and the region is transitioning towards a new future, with new geopolitical characteristics,'” the official, who himself recently reconciled with Damascus after defecting to the Syrian opposition in the summer of 2011, added.
It seems the Gulf has been willing to recognize that the Syrian government won the decade-long war and move on, but not Washington. The US has continued its military occupation of northern Syria, and Israel has extended its bombing campaign, even this week with strikes on Aleppo international airport.
Saudi Arabia will reopen its embassy in Syria, joining a list of several regional countries that reestablished ties with Damascus after failing miserably to overthrow its government for over a decade. Condolences to Israel, US and UK for failing to isolate post-victory Syria
— Hadi Nasrallah (@HadiNasrallah) March 23, 2023
Far-reaching US sanctions are also still on. But regional leaders have been reaching out to Assad after the deadly earthquake which rocked Turkey and Syria, killing tens of thousands of people.
Saudi Arabia and allies like Qatar and the UAE had helped the US spearhead regime change efforts in Damascus. Russia and Iran came to the aid of Syria, however, in a war that took hundreds of thousands of lives and left much of the country in rubble.
Thu, 03/23/2023 – 22:40