Saudi Arabia has dismissed news that it plans to reopen its embassy in Damascus, branding reports quoting the kingdom’s foreign minister as false.
There has been speculation that Saudi Arabia would reopen its Syrian mission after the UAE and Bahrain both said that they were restoring ties with the country, eight years after the start of the civil war.
Oman, Bahrain and the UAE are also discussing resuming flights.
“Referring to what have been circulated by some electronic websites on a statement attributed to Dr Ibrahim bin Abdul aziz Al Assaf, Minister of Foreign Affairs, on opening the embassy in the Syrian capital, an official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied the claimed statement, affirming that this is completely untrue and baseless,” the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported.
Many Arab states cut off diplomatic ties with Bashar Al Assad’s regime after the beginning of his bloody crackdown on protesters in 2011.
The UAE announced that it was reopening the embassy in December and held a ceremony to mark the occasion in Damascus.
As states begin to resume diplomatic ties, it appears that President Bashar Al Assad has emerged battered but not defeated from a war in which more than 500,000 Syrians are believed to have died.
The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash, said the country’s decision came after a “careful reading of developments” and the “birth of a conviction” that the next phase requires Arab involvement to protect Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Dr Gargash told The National last year that he regretted the Arab League’s decision to suspend Syria after the start of the conflict as it left no regional voice in mediation efforts to resolve the conflict. After several failed rounds of UN-sponsored talks in Geneva, Russia began talks in Astana that have been more successful – although no full agreement to end the fighting has been reached.