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Maher al-Assad Visited Saudi Arabia, Listened to Kingdom’s Conditions for “Normalization”

To normalize ties with Saudi Arabia, Damascus must combat drug smuggling and manufacturing and monitor border control, according to al-Jarida.
Maher al-Assad Visited Saudi Arabia, Listened to Kingdom’s Conditions for “Normalization”

The fallout from the Chinese-sponsored Iran-Saudi deal has led to significant political and diplomatic developments in the Middle East, creating a buzz throughout the region. As a result, there seems to be a significant reshuffling of alliances and relations that could potentially turn everything upside down.

A senior Western diplomatic source based in Beirut commented on the regional scene, stating that the upcoming days could bring about surprises regarding relationships between powers and countries in the Middle East. This could include increased rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran and with other countries affiliated with them.

Amidst these ongoing developments, much information is being leaked regarding the efforts to bring Syria back into the Arab League. There are attempts to achieve this at the Arab summit to be held in Riyadh 15 days after Eid al-Fitr.

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After Syrian President Bashar al-Assad departed from the UAE, leaked information suggests that preparations for opening the Saudi embassy in Damascus will occur after Eid al-Fitr. Other reports suggest the possibility of the Saudi Foreign Minister visiting Damascus or inviting the Syrian Foreign Minister to Riyadh, indicating a potential escalation of communication from the security aspect to the political and diplomatic aspect. Meanwhile, insider information from Damascus suggests that the Saudi consulate in Syria is currently undergoing preparations for its opening. In this context, significant developments are expected in the near future.

Last week, a senior Syrian official, who some sources claim to be Maher al-Assad, the brother of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, visited the kingdom following the visit of Syrian intelligence chief Hussam Louka to Riyadh. The purpose of the visit is reportedly related to security concerns, specifically the need for Damascus to combat drug smuggling and manufacturing and monitor border control. The “Fourth Division” in the Syrian army, led by Maher al-Assad, holds authority over these issues and controls the territory, including border crossings and key areas.

Sources suggest that compliance with the conditions set during this visit will pave the way for establishing political relations. In a broader context, it is evident that the aftermath of the Saudi-Iranian agreement and its impact on the Yemeni situation, as demonstrated by the prisoner exchange agreement, will have implications for the Syrian and Lebanese realities. These two countries share similarities in terms of the political proposals that have been imposed upon them, including the Kuwaiti initiative towards Lebanon and the Saudi conditions paper presented to the Syrian regime.

Therefore, there exists a correlation between these issues. After Assad visited the Sultanate of Oman, follow-up sources indicate that he tried to present himself as ready to play a key role in resolving the Yemen crisis and urging the Houthis and Iran to make concessions. Still, the Saudi-Iranian agreement eliminated the need for his involvement. It remains to be seen how Assad’s potential involvement in Lebanon will impact Suleiman Frangieh’s candidacy. Against the backdrop of the region’s ongoing political and diplomatic developments, Beirut has recently hosted numerous tours by Arab and Gulf diplomats. According to reports, a delegation from the Sultanate of Oman visited Beirut. It held discussions with several officials, including Hezbollah, about the need for the party to withdraw from Yemen and cease interference.


This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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