Bashar al-Assad greets Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan, Damascus, Syria, April 19, 2023
UPDATE, MAY 11:
The Saudi Foreign Ministry has formally announced that it “has decided to resume the work of its diplomatic mission” in Assad regime areas of Syria.
— Aron Lund (@aronlund) May 10, 2023
The regime also says that it has received an invitation from Saudi Arabia’s King Salman for Bashar al-Assad to attend the Arab League summit in Jeddah on May 19.
UPDATE, APRIL 21:
Bashar al-Assad has hosted Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan in Damascus.
Assad regime media gave few details of the discussion.
Assad is seeking restoration of bilateral relations with Arab countries, following the breaking of ties over the regime’s deadly repression of the Syrian uprising since March 2011.
Regime media said he declared the “great importance of the role of brotherly Arabs for several reasons, among which supporting the Syrian people, liberating all the Syrian territories, stabilizing the situation, and overcoming the consequences of the war on Syria”.
State news agency SANA portrayed the Saudi Foreign Minister expressing “his country’s confidence in the ability of Syria and its people to overcome all the war impacts and to achieve the sustainable development”
It said he emphasized that “the Kingdom stands by Syria and supports it to preserve its territorial integrity and restore stability and security, along with creating an environment conducive to the return of refugees and displaced persons”.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry avoided any reference to Assad and the future of his rule, instead proclaiming “the Kingdom’s keenness and interest to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis that ends all its repercussions and preserves Syria’s unity, security, stability, and its Arab identity, and restores it to its Arab surroundings, in a way that achieves the good of its brotherly people”.
UPDATE, APRIL 13:
Saudi Arabia has hosted the Assad regime’s Foreign Minister for the first time since the Syrian uprising of 2011.
Faisal Mekdad arrived in Jeddah on Wednesday at the invitation of Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry said discussions are on “efforts to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis that preserves the unity, security and stability of Syria” and on “facilitating the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland and securing humanitarian access to the affected areas in Syria”.
UPDATE, APRIL 3:
Saudi Arabia is planning to invite Bashar al-Assad to an Arab League summit in Riyadh in May, say “three sources familiar with the plans”.
Two sources said Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan will travel to Damascus within weeks to hand Assad a formal invitation for the May 19 gathering.
Gamal Roshdy, a spokesperson for Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said, “We are not supposed to be informed in advance about the assumed visit.”
Syria was suspended from the Arab League in 2011, soon after the start of the Syrian uprising and the Assad regime’s deadly repression of mass protests.
ORIGINAL ENTRY, MARCH 24: Saudi Arabia and the Assad regime are in discussions about renewing diplomatic links.
After reports circulated of the talks, Saudi State TV — citing a Foreign Ministry official — confirmed that the two sides may reopen embassies and that “discussions are underway…about resuming the provision of consular services.”
Riyadh pulled out of Damascus soon after the start of the Syrian uprising in March 2011, as the Assad regime began its deadly repression of protests.
Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to restore diplomatic ties broken by Riyadh in January 2016.
Some Middle Eastern countries, including those who backed anti-Assad factions during the uprising, have moved towards normalization of relations with the regime. Jordan has renewed trade links, including the opening of the Nasib border crossing. The UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus in 2018.
In March 2022, Bashar al-Assad visited the UAE, his first trip to an Arab state since the start of the uprising.