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Syria's Assad lands in Saudi Arabia seeking financial incentives at Arab summit

Robert Ford, the last US ambassador to Syria, said the Jeddah summit will likely end with “nice promises” in front of the cameras but a different outcome in reality as normalization with Assad, overriding sanctions and the return of refugees face mounting hurdles.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in Damascus on April 18, 2023. - Saudi Press Agency

DUBAI — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad landed in Saudi Arabia on Thursday in what  publicly marked his most triumphant moment on the Arab stage since the outbreak of the conflict in 2011. The visit, Assad’s return and participation in the Arab League has been met with US scrutiny and skepticism over what Damascus can offer.

The Syrian presidency announced on Thursday that Assad will be in Jeddah on Thursday and Friday, his first visit to the kingdom in over a decade. It will be his first time at the Arab summit since his government’s readmission to the organization earlier this month. 

Assad is expected to steal the spotlight at the summit, which is taking place despite opposition from the United States and some Arab countries. 

The motivation to bring Syria back to the Arab League is a matter of national security for certain member countries, experts say, and one that overlaps with the refugees issue and the Captagon drug smuggling. 

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