Saudi envoys to visit Syria, jumpstart diplomatic mission after UAE sends ambassador

Saudi envoys to visit Syria, jumpstart diplomatic mission after UAE sends ambassador
The Saudi charge d'affaires' arrival will reportedly come just a few days after the UAE sent an ambassador to Damascus.

3 min read
31 January, 2024
Saudi Arabia closed its embassy in Damascus in 2012 [Louai Beshara/AFP via Getty]

A senior Saudi diplomat is to visit Syria's capital of Damascus later this week to begin diplomatic work, as efforts to reinstate Syria back into the Arab political fold accelerate.

Saudi charge d'affaires Abdullah al-Haris and several other diplomats will arrive in Damascus on Saturday to resume Saudi consular services, Al Watan reported Wednesday.

Al-Haris will submit his credentials to the Syrian foreign minister for approval, before he and his diplomatic team begin work from a hotel in the Syrian capital while work is done to restore the Saudi embassy building, according to the Saudi newspaper.

The New Arab has contacted the Saudi foreign ministry for comment on the report.

The Al Watan report came just a day after the UAE sent its first ambassador to Syria in 13 years.

Emirati envoy Hassan al-Shehi presented his credentials to the Syrian regime's foreign minister on Tuesday.

Ties between the Syrian regime and other Arab-majority states having been warming in recent years, after several Arab states cut off ties with Damascus after it brutally cracked down on a popular uprising in 2011.

More than half a million Syrians have died since, and millions more have been displaced. About 100,000 Syrians are missing, likely killed by regime or regime-affiliated forces.

Inside MENA
Live Story

But with the regime and its forces maintaining or regaining its hold on much of the country, Arab states have in recent years sought to welcome the Syrian regime back into the diplomatic fold.

Syria was last year welcomed back into the Arab League thanks to a push from Saudi Arabia - although its position in the League has for some months appeared tenuous, partly because of its refusal to cooperate with efforts by Arab League countries to end the smuggling and trade of  the illegal amphetamine captagon.

Drug trafficking across the Jordan-Syria border has continued, but Aron Lund, a fellow with Century International told The New Arab that such issues were unlikely to dramatically impact normalisation efforts between Damascus and Arab states.

"Arab leaders know Syria and they know Assad. There’s no trust on either side. The big normalization pile-on in 2023 was about exiting what they felt was a useless and damaging dead end, with some added intra-Arab competition on top," Lund said.

"Seeing these shenanigans play out on the Jordanian border could be a factor in how they decide to approach Syria, but over time, I doubt it would be a major one."

Damascus and Riyadh had announced in May that they would be resuming the work of their diplomatic missions.

The Syrian regime announced in December that deputy foreign minister Ayman Soussan would be its new envoy to Saudi Arabia.