Saudi Arabia appoints first ambassador to Syria since 2012

Saudi Arabia appoints first ambassador to Syria since 2012
Saudi Arabia has appointed an ambassador to Assad's Syria for the first time in 12 years, following the dictator's slow rapprochement with Arab neighbours.
2 min read
Despite Assad's vast crimes against Syrians, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states are welcoming him back into the fold [Getty]

Saudi Arabia on Sunday announced the appointment of its first ambassador to Syria since severing ties with Damascus in 12 years, marking an ongoing thawing in relations since the war-torn country was readmitted to the Arab League over a year ago.

Faisal al-Mujfel's appointment as the kingdom's first ambassador to Syria since 2012 was announced by the state-run Saudi Press Agency. It comes over a year after Syria was readmitted to the 22-member Arab League . It remained suspended from the group for more than a decade over President Bashar Assad's brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters in 2011. Riyadh severed ties with Damascus in 2012.

Syrian state media and authorities did not immediately comment on the development.

The uprising turned-civil war in Syria, now in its 14th year, has killed nearly half a million people and displaced half of the country’s pre-war population of 23 million. It has long remained largely frozen and so have been efforts to find a viable political solution to end it.

A devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake in February 2023 that rocked Turkey and northern Syria was a catalyst for most Arab countries to reinstate ties with Assad.

In March 2023, Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to reestablish diplomatic ties after talks in Beijing, marking a major diplomatic breakthrough with an aim to reduce conflict between the two countries.

Iran has been a key political and military ally for the Assad regime in Syria and the Lebanese Hezbollah group. In Yemen, Saudi Arabia has led a coalition against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels since 2015 in an attempt to restore the internationally-recognised government. 

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last week met with United States National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan as they edge closer to a wide-ranging security agreement, which Saudi state media said includes ending Israel's war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, delivering aid to the battered territory, and a two-state solution that “meets the aspirations and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.”