According to the Israeli website DEBKAfile, the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, is preparing for an official visit to Saudi Arabia and Egypt soon, in preparation for the Arab summit to be held in Algeria.
On Monday, the intelligence website quoted Gulf sources as saying that Assad will meet with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, while the President of Egypt Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will meet Assad in Cairo.
The website added that the visits are a prelude to the regime resuming its place at the Arab League and participating in the Arab summit, which is scheduled to be held in Algeria this November.
The website did not specify a timetable for the visits or other details. Neither the Saudi nor Egyptian governments commented on the reports.
This development follows Assad’s surprise visit to the UAE last week to meet with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and Dubai Governor Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The trip was Assad’s first visit to an Arab country since the Syrian revolution broke out in 2011.
The visit met with western reactions. Great Britain said that strengthening relations with Assad undermines the prospect of reaching a lasting and comprehensive peace in Syria. Germany asserted that Assad is a “criminal,” while the United States expressed “deep disappointment” at Assad’s normalization.
As rapprochement grows between Arab states and the Assad regime over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has recently confirmed that its position on the regime has not changed, noting that Riyadh has no intention of normalizing relations with Syria.
Last November, when Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan was asked whether Saudi Arabia was considering communicating with Assad like many other governments, he responded: “Saudi Arabia is not thinking about it right now.”
Relations between the Assad regime and Saudi Arabia have been strained, not to mention diplomatically severed, since August 2011, when Riyadh withdrew the Saudi ambassador from Damascus. The withdrawal followed the escalating massacres of civilians by the Assad regime in Syrian areas that were provoked to change the regime.
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.