Syrian Foreign Minister Arrives in Saudi Arabia for the First Time Since 2011

The US opposes regional countries upgrading ties with Syria

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday as Riyadh and Damascus are working toward normalization.

Mekdad’s trip marks the first time a Syrian foreign minister visited Saudi Arabia since 2011, when Riyadh cut ties with Damascus and threw support behind the failed regime change effort against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry said Mekdad and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan will “hold a session of talks on efforts to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis that preserves the unity, security and stability of Syria.”

The visit comes amid reports that Saudi Arabia is working to restore Syria’s membership in the Arab League. Reuters reported Tuesday that Riyadh was hosting a meeting of Arab foreign ministers on Friday to discuss bringing Damascus back into the fold.

Saudi Arabia is set to invite Assad to an Arab League summit it’s hosting on May 19. Riyadh and Damascus are also expected to re-open their embassies soon and restore formal diplomatic relations.

The Biden administration strongly opposes regional countries normalizing with Damascus as it prefers to keep Syria under crippling economic sanctions and wants to continue occupying eastern Syria.

According to The Wall Street Journal, CIA Director William Burns recently visited Riyadh and said the US was “blindsided” by the Saudi steps to normalize with Damascus as well as the surprise Saudi-Iran normalization deal.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.