DUBAI — Jordan’s King Abdullah II concluded a three-day trip Thursday to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where he met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in Jeddah and UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed. Arab normalization with Syria under President Bashar Al-Assad's government topped the agenda.
These trips followed last week’s meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Jeddah, where Jordan pushed to bring Syria back into the 22-member Arab League after being ousted in 2011. Though the gathering ended without a final decision, regional rapprochement with Syria has taken off in the last month. A diplomatic source told Al-Monitor that the Syrian normalization file tops Amman's Gulf diplomacy, following the peace plan that it announced last week.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan visited Damascus this week in the first such trip for a top diplomat from the kingdom in over a decade. Assad was received in the UAE and Oman while Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mekdad visited Tunisia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia this month.
Merissa Khurma, director of Middle East programs at the Wilson Center, said Jordan has had a longstanding and strong relationship with both the UAE and Saudi Arabia and they share many mutual interests. The topic of Syria sits front and center for the country that shares its southernmost border as well as its refugee and drug-trafficking crisis.