Saudi Arabia looking to 'reengage' with Syria's Assad regime: report
Saudi Arabia and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are "close" to reaching an important diplomatic agreement, according to Syrian opposition figures.
“The political mood within the House of Saud has changed, many senior royals, particularly Mohammad bin Salman [MBS] himself, are keen to reengage with Assad,” a senior official from the Syrian opposition Free Officers' Movement said, according to Al Jazeera.
The move is seen as part of Riyadh's efforts diminish Iranian influence in Syria.
“The prevailing attitude can be defined as, ‘times have changed, the Arab Spring is history and the region is transitioning towards a new future, with new geopolitical characteristics,” said the source, who allegedly reconciled with Damascus himself after defecting to the Syrian opposition in 2011.
Saudi Arabia ceased diplomatic ties with Syria and closed its embassy in Damascus in 2012 after the regime brutally suppressed anti-government protests in the country and launched an assault on opposition areas.
News that Riyadh and Damascus could significantly step up relations comes amid reports of a broader attempt by Saudi Arabia to defuse tensions in the region.
Media reports last month revealed that Iranian and Saudi officials met in Baghdad in April, their first high-level meeting since Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Tehran in 2016.
Iran in late April welcomed a "change of tone" from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman towards it after he called for a "good and special relationship" with Tehran.
The regional rivals have backed opposite sides of several regional conflicts, from Syria to Yemen, where a Saudi-led military coalition is fighting the Houthi rebels.
Iran backs the Houthis, who are battling the coalition that intervened in Yemen's war in support of an internationally recognised government in 2015.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar were key backers of the Syrian opposition during the ten-year war which has left around 500,000 dead, mostly from regime attacks.