- Saudi state Al-Ekhbariya TV channel on Thursday reported that Saudi Arabia and Syria are in talks over re-establishing consular services amid a broader discussion to restore ties following a decade of no diplomatic relations.1
- Regional sources claim that both governments are planning to reopen mutual embassies after Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim holiday, later in April. Syria could also be readmitted to the 22-member Arab League after 12 years if talks succeed.2
- This comes as Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan stated last month that Arab countries had agreed that Syrian isolation was 'not workable,' stressing the need of restoring dialogue with Damascus.3
- The Wall Street Journal further reported that rounds of Russia-brokered negotiations have taken place in Moscow and Riyadh in recent weeks. Earlier this month, a PRC-mediated deal resumed ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia.4
- Riyadh has reportedly spent tens of billions of dollars working to topple two rival regimes in the region — Assad's government in Syria and the Houthis that control much of Yemen — over the past decade but has changed course, allegedly for increasingly seeing the rest of the Arab world as an inconvenience.5
- While US-Saudi relations have been at a low level since Pres. Biden called the kingdom a 'pariah' over the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, China and Russia have expanded their influence and interest in the Middle East.6
- Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by FOX News. Recent deals between US ally Saudi Arabia and US rivals Iran and Syria reiterate how disastrous the current administration has been to US interests in the Middle East. By not showing a clear commitment to the interests of its regional allies, the US has caused a geopolitical tilt of the region to Russia and China.
- Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Responsible statecraft. Amid growing signs of rapprochement between Riyadh and Damascus, which could lead to the return of Assad's regime to the Arab and international stage, the US can take this opportunity to balance its principles with realpolitik to finally get out of the decade-long impasse in Syria. The West should work with Saudi Arabia to engage in these talks to counter Iranian influence in Syria and prevent regional conflicts.