Improving relations between Saudi Arabia and Syria

After a ten-year halt of commercial exchange, the Syrian government has supposedly consented to let Saudi Arabia import merchandise, as reports surface of improved relations between the two Middle Eastern countries.

A document published by the Syrian government revealed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates has given permission for materials from Saudi Arabia to be brought in, with a focus on sugar and petrochemicals. The report stated that the agreement permits 10,000 tons of sugar to be imported from the kingdom.

In recent years, there have been many rumors that Riyadh is pondering the possibility of renewing full diplomatic relations with Damascus. This would be a dramatic shift, given the Assad government’s harsh reaction to peaceful protests, the descent into civil war, and the ostracism of the regime by the international community and many Arab nations.

Al-Jaafari, an economic specialist, denied the idea that the allowance of Saudi imports is a political decision. According to him, it is solely an economic one. He explained that the purpose of this move is to pressure Riyadh to lessen the limitations on trucks carrying Syrian goods, which travel to Gulf nations.

Al-Jaafari noted that the move was intended to reduce the severity of Saudi Arabia’s restrictions on imports from Syria, which had been mainly due to the huge amounts of illicit narcotics, such as captagon, from Syria being covertly transported by concealing the drugs in cargo, in an effort to deceive customs officers.

Saudi Arabia has exhibited signs of potentially restoring relations with the Syrian government.

Presently, Riyadh is still unchanged in its stance against completely reestablishing relations, and would not consent to Damascus’s admittance back into the Arab League in the past year.