Saudi Arabia may invite Syria to attend the upcoming Arab League summit in Riyadh in May, reinforcing the trend of Syria’s reintegration into regional politics after over a decade of isolation.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries were severed in 2012 when Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador from Syria, claiming that the Bashar Assad government had killed civilians during anti-government protests and the ensuing civil war.
Later, Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf countries such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates openly supported U.S. calls to provide armaments and other aid to the anti-Assad forces and asked for his removal from power.
While not officially confirmed, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud is likely to visit Damascus in the coming weeks to formally invite Syria to the summit. The Arab League summit is scheduled for May 19.
Saudi Arabia and Syria have agreed to reopen their respective embassies in Damascus and Riyadh after Ramadan this year.
While the civil war is still ongoing, the Syrian government—with the support of Russia and Iran—has been able to regain control over most of the country’s territory. There are already talks of Turkey withdrawing support to the remaining rebels who control a part of northwest Syria.
With the certainty that Assad will win the war, Russia has been pushing for a Syrian rapprochement with other Arab countries, and the Saudi moves toward the country may be attributed to that effort. However, there is little doubt that this is part of a larger realignment in the region’s politics.