Diplomacy: Damascus and Riyadh negotiate consular services

Damascus and Riyadh negotiate consular services

Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud is Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister. photo

© -/Saudi Press Agency/dpa

Saudi Arabia cut ties with Syria in 2012. A diplomatic rapprochement could now be imminent that would mean a major political shift in the region.

More than a decade after severing ties in the wake of the Syrian civil war, Syria and Saudi Arabia are negotiating to resume consular services. This was reported by the Saudi state television channel Al-Ekhbariya, citing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Riyadh. The German Press Agency learned from circles in the Syrian Foreign Ministry that an agreement would be sought after the end of the month of Ramadan in April.

The step towards diplomatic normalization would be an important political gain for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. After twelve years of civil war in Syria, Assad is severely isolated internationally. However, the severe earthquakes of February 6 in Syria and Turkey gave him the opportunity to show himself more publicly – for example on rare trips abroad to Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Arabia, which occupies a dominant position in the Gulf, cut ties with Syria in 2012 and recalled its ambassador. The move was seen as a protest against the Syrian government’s brutal actions against its own people. Riyadh was also instrumental in suspending Syria’s membership in the Arab League. In the event of a rapprochement with Saudi Arabia, Syria would also come closer to returning to the Arab League.

The rapprochement would be another major political shift in the region. Two weeks ago, rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran announced a resumption of bilateral relations, and their foreign ministers are due to meet soon. Alongside Russia, Iran is President Assad’s most important ally in the civil war.


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