Saudi Arabia is planning to invite Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the upcoming Arab League summit that will be held in Riyadh, Reuters reported on April 2.
Syria’s membership in the Arab League was suspended 12 years ago after the outbreak of the war. Back then, Saudi Arabia supported the decision.
Two sources familiar with the plans told the news agency that Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan will visit Damascus in coming weeks to hand Assad a formal invitation to attend the summit scheduled for May 19.
Another source said that discussions have been ongoing for more than a year over a list of demands from Saudi Arabia for Syria to meet as a condition to restore ties, including close cooperation on border security and work against drug trafficking.
Initial discussions for a visit by Prince Faisal to Damascus or by Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad to Riyadh were postponed because of the earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria on February 6, one of the sources told Reuters.
Last month, Saudi Arabia and Syria reached a breakthrough agreement to reopen their embassies after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Talks between Riyadh and Damascus gained momentum following a Chinese-brokered agreement to re-establish ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, a close ally of al-Assad. The talks were sponsored by Russia.
Egypt also reapproached Syria recently. Just a day earlier, Mekdad paid a visit to Cario where he held a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry. An Egyptian security source told Reuters that the visit will help put in place steps to return Syria to the Arab League through Egyptian and Saudi Arabian mediation.
A report by the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya channel said that an official Egyptian delegation will visit Damascus after Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim holiday in the second half of April, to arrange an Egyptian-Syria summit. A separate report by The Wall Street journal said that a meeting between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and al-Assad will be arranged.
It is worth noting that El-Sisi made his first phone call to al-Assad to offer his condolences in the wake of the devastating earthquake.
All in all, it appears that Syria is well on course to reclaim its position within the Arab World. The war-torn country will gain much from this achievement not only politically, but also on the economic level. The United States and European Union attempts to isolate and pressure Damascus have apparently failed.