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After Syria earthquake, Saudi Arabia is linchpin to Assad's normalization

If Assad’s earthquake diplomacy succeeds in improving relations with Saudi Arabia, the path to Syria's normalization in Arab politics will be wide open.
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad gets a red carpet reception on a rare visit to Oman on Feb. 20, 2023. (Photo: Foreign Ministry of Oman)

The devastating earthquake that tore through Syria and Turkey two weeks ago has left cities in ruin and tens of thousands dead. But as humanitarian assistance began to pour in, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad found himself at the center of attention.

After years in the political wilderness, Assad is now taking a steady stream of calls and visitors, and on Feb. 20, he went on a red carpet visit to Oman. Earthquake diplomacy seems to be working out well for Assad, and there are even signs that Saudi Arabia — long the main obstacle to Syria’s reintegration in Arab politics — has softened its approach.

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