Syria regime appoints new envoy to Saudi Arabia following 11-year absence

Syria regime appoints new envoy to Saudi Arabia following 11-year absence
The appointment of Ayman Soussan as Syria's newest envoy to Saudi Arabia comes amid a series of moves solidifying the normalisation of ties between Damascus and Riyadh.
2 min read
07 December, 2023
The Syrian regime and Saudi Arabia re-established diplomatic relations after over 10 years of severed ties, in a move signaling a shift in the region [Getty/file photo]

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has appointed a new envoy to Saudi Arabia following an 11-year absence, amid a recent thaw in relations between the regime and Riyadh.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ayman Soussan was appointed with the role according to Syria’s state-run news agency SANA, and was subsequently sworn in during a ceremony attended by Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad.

The move comes as ties between Syria and Saudi Arabia were restored earlier this year, after Riyadh severed its ties with Damascus in 2012 over the country’s devastating civil war, in which the Assad regime led the brutal suppression of peaceful protesters.

Many Arab states withdrew their envoys as a result, and Assad was accused of being responsible for the killing of close to half a million Syrians during the years-long war. 

During the outbreak of the war in 2011, Riyadh gave its backing to the Syrian opposition, and accused the Assad regime of carrying out war crimes.

Since the rapprochement, Mekdad and his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan have paid visits to the countries’ capital in April. Meanwhile in May, Riyadh and Damascus announced they would be begin resuming the work of its diplomatic missions.

Saudi Arabia’s warming up to Syria paved the way for Damascus’ readmission to the Arab fold -  as well as the Arab League. Riyadh hosted a Syrian delegation for an Arab League summit in May, with the body’s members agreeing to the country’s return with immediate effect.

The decision, however, was met with opposition from Qatar, who said that normalisation with Syria can’t occur until a political solution the country’s conflict is reached.

Saudi Arabia's re-establishing of ties with Syria came as Riyadh reinstated diplomatic relations with Iran - shifting the region's political landscape.

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Additionally, Saudi Arabia - and by extension the Arab world’s - normalisation with Damascus was rejected by members of the Syrian opposition. Hundreds of Syrians in rebel-held areas in the country’s north protested against the decision, chanting slogans such as "Syria cannot be represented by Assad the criminal" and "the people want the fall of the regime."