Media sources revealed the start of maintenance and renovations that the Kingdom’s embassy is witnessing in the capital, Damascus, amid reports that the Kingdom is ready to resume its diplomatic activity and return to normalization with the Bashar Al-Assad regime.
Although diplomatic relations between Riyadh and Syria have not been announced (severed since 2012), there are several indications that the next stage will witness a shift towards the normalization of relations again between the two countries, and the reopening of the Kingdom’s embassy in Damascus.
With this, Riyadh is following in the footsteps of the Emirates and Bahrain, which restored relations with Syria about a year ago.
The sources quoted an informed source in Damascus, who declined to be identified, as saying that the opening of the embassy is “a matter of time only”, and final arrangements are being made for that.
The source pointed out that it is not the first time that talk of a “close return” to resume relations between the two countries, but a number of current indicators confirm this.
According to the source, the most prominent of these indicators, was announced by the Emirati Chargé d’Affairs in Damascus a few days ago, when the President of the Syrian regime described “Bashar al-Assad” as the “wise leader”, which indicates a general climate within the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The source also drew attention to the participation of a delegation of the Syrian Journalists Union in the work of the General Secretariat of the Arab Journalists Union in Riyadh, which is its first invitation to the Kingdom.
The head of the Union of Journalists in Syria, Musa Abdel-Nour, said that his country’s delegation had not met any Saudi official figures.
He explained that participation was limited to “dialogue with colleagues in the Saudi Journalists Association only, as we are on a professional, not political, mission.”
On the political dimensions of the participation that would not have taken place without the political approval, Abd Al-Nur pointed out that “there is definitely approval, whether with regard to our participation, or for the Saudi Journalists Association, which inevitably moved through the relevant ministries such as the ministries of the interior and the media.”
Abdel Nour added that the issue of the opening of the embassy in Damascus was not touched, and “all we talked about is the wish that this participation be a positive step in the right way in the interest of Syria and Saudi Arabia and the interest of the Arabs completely, and in order to end the war on Syria and we hope that you will read it Other steps in more than one direction.”
The Syrian newspaper “Al-Watan”, a few days ago, quoted an Arab diplomatic source in Damascus, confirming that a conversation is developing about the return of diplomatic relations between Damascus and Riyadh, and his saying that “the opening of the Saudi embassy is not far away.”
Prior to that, during his visit to Syria, Alexander Lavrentev, the Russian President’s special envoy to Syria, about 3 months ago, said that he carried a message from Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman to “Assad”, and it was said at the time that the atmosphere was positive.
In November 2011, the Arab League suspended Syria membership as a result of several pressures exerted by Arab countries, especially the Gulf states, against the backdrop of the situation regarding the ongoing conflict in this country, after the government of “Bashar al-Assad” held responsibility for the killing of civilians.
Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, several Arab countries have closed their embassies in Damascus, or have reduced their relations with the Syrian government, but several calls have arisen in recent months to resume relations, and thus restore Syria’s membership in the League of Arab States.
The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in the Kingdom, “Adel Al-Jubeir,” said last March that there was no change in his country’s position regarding the opening of the embassy in Damascus, and pointed out that the reactivation of Syria’s membership in the Arab League was “premature.”
The signs of the Saudi-Syrian rapprochement began clearly in the meeting of the Arab Parliament in Amman, as Riyadh welcomed the continuation of support for the building of the headquarters of the Arab Parliamentary Union in Damascus, which was suspended years ago to be replaced by a temporary headquarters in the Lebanese capital Beirut.
Riyadh last year also stood with the representative of the Syrian regime at the meeting before some members ’demands to pay Damascus financial dues to Parliament, which is Syria’s share of crowdfunding for the Arab Parliament project, as Damascus refused to pay money for past years because the freezing of its membership was not its will.
At the end of 2018, Arab regimes such as Sudan, Egypt, and Iraq began to normalize publicly with the Assad regime, which is heavily backed by Russia and Iran following the losses incurred by the opposition factions on the ground.