Syrian President Bashar Assad meets with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Damascus, Tuesday April 18, 2023.InternationalIndiaAfricaThe devastating earthquakes which rocked northern Syria in February resulted in an unprecedented outpouring of humanitarian support from the country’s neighbors, as well as a concerted diplomatic effort to end the region’s involvement in the decade-long US-led dirty war against the Syrian state.Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud travelled to Damascus on Tuesday for talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad – with the trip constituting the first visit of its kind in more than a decade, and coming amid the push to restore ties and reopen embassies.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry said the visit aimed to convey Riyadh’s “keenness” to find a political solution to the long Syrian conflict which would enable the preservation of the country’s “unity, security, stability, and its Arab identity, and restore it to its Arab surroundings in a way that achieves the good of its brotherly people.”
President Assad and Prince Faisal discussed bilateral ties, as well as international matters, with Assad asking the foreign minister to convey his “greetings” to the Saudi King and Crown Prince, as well as the “brotherly Saudi people.”
Assad stressed that “the brotherhood that unites the Arabs remains the deepest of the bonds binding the Arab countries,” and that “sound relations” between Syria and Saudi Arabia were natural and important for the region.
Prince Faisal reiterated Saudi Arabia’s support for Syria’s territorial integrity, and efforts to restore stability and security – in open defiance the policies being pursued by Riyadh’s traditional partners in Washington – which continue to occupy about a third of the Middle Eastern nation’s territory.Prince Faisal’s appearance in Damascus, which followed Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad’s historic trip to Saudi Arabia last week, would have been unthinkable just two months ago.Relations between the two countries collapsed to a post-Cold War low point in the early 2010s after Riyadh joined the US-led effort to try to depose Assad, and sent weapons to rebel fighters. Diplomatic relations were broken off in early 2012. The kingdom’s position gradually began shifting in the late 2010s, with Riyadh disengaging with representatives of Syria’s opposition, and then beginning reconciliation talks with Damascus in late 2018 – with Iran’s support for Syria in its battle against terrorism reportedly considered a key sticking point.The success of the China-brokered negotiations on the restoration of Iranian-Saudi relations last month resulted in reconciliation talks in other conflict areas being sped up as well, leading to hopes that putting the Iranian-Saudi regional rivalry to bed could help facilitate peace in Syria, as well as Yemen.Saudi Arabia, which is preparing to host a summit of the Arab League next month, is expected to invite President Assad to attend the meeting – a move that would signal a push toward the restoration of Syria’s membership in the 22-nation regional body -12 years after its suspension in 2011.WorldSaudis Reportedly Pushing to Bring Syria Back to Arab League by May Summit5 April, 19:29 GMTSaudi Arabia is one of multiple regional countries that has made a concerted push to restore ties with Syria in recent weeks. The broad regional effort to put an end the Syrian crisis threatens to undermine Washington’s position in the region – with the US strategy focused on the preservation of the status quo, including the illegal occupation of wide swathes of oil and food-rich Syrian territory. Damascus has vowed to one day restore control over all of its internationally recognized territories, and repeatedly called for all military forces in the country which were not invited by the Syrian government to withdraw.