Saudi Arabia plans to reopen its consulate in the Syrian capital, Damascus, over a decade after it was closed at the onset of the US-led war on Syria in 2011. The kingdom plans to reopen the consulate in Damascus following the month of Ramadan. Additional preparations will be made during the upcoming visit to Syria by Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan, who will meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The re-opening of the embassy will come as a result of mediation efforts led by Russia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and following the resumption of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia. In 2012, Saudi Arabia broke off diplomatic ties with Damascus amid its efforts to topple the Syrian government.
Iran was a strong supporter of the Syrian government during the war, helping to protect the country from the US and Saudi-backed armed groups. Reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia has therefore opened the door for reconciliation between Damascus and Riyadh as well.
Iran and Saudi Arabia announced the resumption of relations after a series of secret talks held in Beijing between the two rival Islamic nations, which concluded on 10 March. The Iranian-Saudi talks in China came at the initiative of Chinese President Xi Jinping and had been underway for several years, with Iraq and Oman hosting preliminary talks between the two parties in 2021 and 2022.
Saudi Foreign Minister Bin Farhan had already stated on February 18 that there is a “growing consensus” in the Arab world for the reintegration of Syria into the regional fold. The Saudi minister stressed that the isolation of Damascus is no longer feasible and that dialogue is needed “at some point” to, at the very least, address humanitarian issues such as refugee repatriation.
He added that a “new approach” was being devised to address the suffering of civilians in Syria, particularly after the devastating earthquake that struck Syria and Turkey in February, as well as to address the Syrian refugee crisis across the region.