Following the earthquake that struck northern Syria, Saudi Arabia has taken steps toward building closer ties with the country. A few days ago, the first Saudi plane landed at Aleppo International Airport. Additionally, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan called for dialogue with the Syrian government two days ago at the Munich Security Forum. He emphasized that there is an Arab consensus on the idea that “there is no point in isolating Syria.”
Several political circles have noted that the statement made by the Saudi Foreign Minister represents a significant shift in Saudi policy toward Syria. The British newspaper “The Independent” has pointed out that “Prince Faisal bin Farhan’s statements indicate a policy change compared to the early years of the nearly 12-year-long Syrian war, during which Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, supported opposition groups working against the Syrian state.”
Saudi Foreign Minister: Gulf and Arab Consensus on Dialogue with Syria
Saudi Arabia’s recent move towards building closer ties with Syria began to show signs before the earthquake. However, the earthquake seemed to have provided an opportunity for Riyadh to pursue this path. The Al-Arab newspaper published an article in this regard, stating that “indications of accepting Syria’s absorption while President Bashar al-Assad remains in power preceded the earthquake. However, the earthquake provided an ideal opportunity to reveal this change.” The article further notes that “the UAE’s approach to resuming relations with Syria has proven to be useful. This approach prioritizes mutual interests rather than competition. The implicit rule is that survival is for the fittest and most beneficial.”
An article published by the British website “Middle East Online” also highlights this shift in Saudi Arabia’s policy towards Syria. The article states that “Saudi Arabia has put an end to its reluctance to re-normalize relations with Syria. The UAE was the first Gulf country to reopen its embassy in Damascus in 2018 after years of estrangement, and this Emirati move stimulated discussions about Syria’s return to the Arab fold and the restoration of its seat in the Arab League.” The article further notes that “Damascus has succeeded in breaking some of the isolation imposed on it regionally through visits by some Arab officials, as well as officials from the United Nations and international organizations.”
Talks about several Arab countries’ trends towards opening up to Damascus started at the beginning of 2022, coinciding with the start of the Ukrainian war, which brought about several changes in the balance of power. This prompted several countries, especially those in the Gulf region, to re-evaluate and reorganize their foreign relations.
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.