Saudi Arabia and Syria have agreed to establish ties and reopen their embassies after over a decade of not having formal diplomatic relations, Reuters reported on Thursday.
Unnamed sources told Reuters that contacts between Riyadh and Damascus gained momentum following the surprise Saudi-Iran normalization deal that was brokered by China. Tehran is a major ally of the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Syria in 2011 and threw its support behind the failed US-backed regime change effort. As it’s become clear that Assad isn’t going anywhere, more regional countries have been normalizing with his government, an effort led by the UAE, which reopened its embassy in Syria in 2018.
One source told Reuters that Syria and Saudi Arabia are “preparing to reopen embassies after Eid al-Fitr,” a Muslim holiday that will be celebrated on April 21 and April 22.
The US is against any normalization steps between Syria and regional countries as it occupies about one-third of Syrian territory and maintains crippling economic sanctions on the country. The Biden administration has even come out against countries upgrading ties with Assad as part of an effort to help Syria recover from a devastating earthquake that hit on February 6 and killed thousands of Syrians.