Saudi Arabia, Syria restore diplomatic ties after nearly a decade

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad cemented his return to the Arab fold Tuesday (May 9) after Saudi Arabia said it will reopen its diplomatic mission in Syria. The announcement was made by the Saudi foreign ministry and later confirmed by Damascus. This also comes days after Syria was readmitted into the Arab League ending its years-long suspension.

The restoration of diplomatic ties happened nearly a decade after Riyadh withdrew its representatives during the early stages of Syria’s civil war. 

The statement by Riyadh’s foreign ministry said that the Kingdom has decided “to resume the work of its diplomatic mission in Syria,” as quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency, adding that it would seek to “develop joint Arab action”.

Meanwhile, the Syrian news agency SANA, also citing officials reported, “the Syrian Arab Republic has decided to resume the work of its diplomatic mission in Saudi Arabia.” 

The contact between the two countries gathered momentum after the landmark China-brokered deal to re-establish ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, reported Reuters citing a regional source aligned with Damascus.

Tehran is reportedly a key ally of Assad. However, the United States, an ally of Saudi Arabia along with Arab countries, are also opposed to initiatives taken by regional countries to normalise ties with Assad. 

The US has cited his government’s brutality during the conflict. Notably, Assad had been politically isolated in the region since Syria’s war began and it was not until this week’s diplomatic activity which has resumed ties that shifted the political landscape.

The agreement also comes ahead of the pan-Arab bloc’s next summit which will take place on May 19. Last month, Assad met Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan for the first time since the war broke out in 2011. 

In 2012, Saudi Arabia severed ties with Assad’s government while it has also long hailed Assad’s ouster, backing Syrian rebels in earlier stages of the war. 

(With inputs from agencies) 

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