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Syria's Arab League return still uncertain, even as Assad normalization continues

The Saudi-led tide of normalization with Syrian President Assad may end his regional isolation, but just on a diplomatic level for now.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in Damascus on April 18, 2023.

Saudi Arabia’s thaw with Syria comes amid talk of the Saudis’ hopes to invite Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the Arab League summit on May 19 — a move that would end the country’s regional estrangement.

It remains uncertain if Assad will get the invite to the summit in Saudi Arabia, or if the thaw will be confined for now to the bilateral relations between Damascus and different regional countries. 

Riyadh’s efforts to warm up to Damascus, marked by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan's visit  to Damascus this month, are a shift for the powerful Gulf state, which was formerly one of the principal sponsors of opposition groups in the Syrian uprising and had adamantly called for Assad to be ousted from power.

Last month, Saudi Arabia reportedly decided to resume consular affairs at its embassy in Syria, shifting normalization into high gear. The decision came on the heels of the landmark agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, formerly Riyadh’s nemesis that has embedded itself in Syria.

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