Saudi Arabia is in talks with Syria to reopen its embassy in the war-torn nation for the first time in a decade. State television in Saudi Arabia reported on Thursday that discussions had started with their Syrian counterparts to resume consular services. The report followed Chinese-mediated talks in Beijing that saw Saudi Arabia and Iran agree to reopen embassies in each other’s nations.
Syrian President Bashar Assad has remained in power thanks to the help of Iran and Russia. Russian mediation is believed to have led to the talks to reopen embassies between Saudi Arabia and Syria. Syrian state media is yet to acknowledge the talks, and neither country has responded to requests for comment.
Why are talks between Saudi Arabia and Syria taking place now?
The talks between Saudi Arabia and Syria to reopen their embassies mark a significant shift in the diplomatic landscape of the Middle East. The two countries have been at odds since the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011, with Saudi Arabia backing the opposition forces and Syria aligning itself with Iran and Russia. However, in recent years, the Saudi government has sought to normalize its relations with Syria and other regional powers in an effort to counter the growing influence of China and Russia in the Middle East.
The announcement of the talks comes just days after Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to reopen their embassies in each other’s countries, ending a long period of hostility between the two regional powers. The agreement was brokered by China, which has been seeking to expand its influence in the region through its Belt and Road Initiative. The Chinese government has been investing heavily in infrastructure projects in the Middle East, including in Saudi Arabia and Iran, in an effort to secure access to the region’s vast oil reserves.
The talks between Saudi Arabia and Syria were reportedly facilitated by Russia, which has been seeking to strengthen its ties with both countries. Russia has been a key ally of Syria since the start of the civil war, providing military and diplomatic support to the Assad regime. However, Moscow has also sought to build closer ties with Saudi Arabia in recent years, as part of its broader strategy to expand its influence in the Middle East.
The reopening of embassies between Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Syria is a significant development in the region, as it could pave the way for greater cooperation and dialogue between these countries. However, analysts caution that the road ahead is fraught with challenges, as these countries have long-standing differences that cannot be resolved overnight. Moreover, the United States, which has been the dominant power in the Middle East for decades, is likely to view these developments with concern, as they could further undermine its influence in the region.
The talks between Saudi Arabia and Syria also come at a time of heightened tensions between Israel and Iran, which has been blamed for a recent attack on an Israeli-owned cargo ship in the Gulf of Oman. The incident has raised fears of a wider conflict in the region, as Israel and Iran continue to engage in a proxy war in Syria and other parts of the Middle East. The reopening of embassies between Saudi Arabia and Syria could have implications for this conflict as well, as both countries are likely to play a key role in any future peace negotiations.
Overall, the talks between Saudi Arabia and Syria are a sign of the changing dynamics in the Middle East, as regional powers seek to balance their relationships with traditional allies and new partners. While the road ahead is uncertain, these developments could pave the way for a more stable and peaceful Middle East in the years to come.