Officials close to the Assad regime have sparked controversy in recent hours after publishing information on social media regarding the visit of the Saudi security delegation to Damascus. This delegation met with their counterparts of the Syrian security officials; while there was no official comment from the Syrian regime or the Saudi authorities on the matter.
Omar Rahmoun, a member of the “National Reconciliation Delegation” raised the case on Twitter saying: A Saudi delegation headed by the head of the intelligence service, Lieutenant-General Khaled Al-Humaidan is visiting Damascus and meeting President Bashar Al-Assad and Major General Ali Mamlouk.” Rahmoun added that the visit comes as a prelude to the re-opening of the Saudi embassy, which will take place after Eid Al-Fitr, and the restoration of relations between the two countries on all levels. Rahmoun said, “Regarding this issue, the official media did not publish anything about it. The information was leaked through some news outlets, and I took it from them in addition to other sources.”
He also stated “This news is 100 percent true and I assume full responsibility. The Saudi delegation that visited Damascus was headed by Khaled Al-Humaidan, head of the intelligence services. Thus the meeting was a high-security summit.”
In turn, Muhammad Hussein, secretary of the “reconciliation committees” of the Assad regime, confirmed the aforementioned information: “With my modest knowledge, I know that a Saudi delegation headed by the intelligence chief has held meetings in Damascus. Things are fine and developments are good. What I know is that the Saudi embassy in Damascus will open after Eid al-Fitr”.
A spokesman for the US State Department, who preferred not to be named, confirmed that “the ministry is aware of reports in regards to the ongoing Syrian-Saudi talks to reopen the Saudi embassy in the Syrian capital. I refer you to the Saudi government for a comment on this,” he said before adding: “We believe that stability in Syria and the region, in general, can only be achieved through a political process that represents the will of all Syrians. We are committed to working with our allies and the United Nations to ensure that a lasting political solution remains within reach.”
“Normalization after Eid Al-Fitr”
According to “The Guardian” newspaper, quoting officials in Riyadh, the normalization of relations could begin shortly after Eid Al-Fitr.
An official pointed out to the newspaper that planning for this matter began some time ago, but nothing was followed up; explaining that the regional changes that are being witnessed were a new trigger for it.
The above comes as the Syrian regime is to organize the presidential elections in late May, which is considered illegitimate by the Syrian opposition and rejected by the United States and the European Union.
It also coincides with media reports published by people close to the Syrian regime, in which they stated that Syria’s return to the Arab League is getting closer, and the gateway for that may be the re-normalization of relations with Arab countries, the first of which was the UAE.
Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Damascus in August 2011, then announced in March 2012, the closure of its embassy and the withdrawal of all diplomats and workers.
As for the Arab League, it suspended the membership of Syria on October 12, 2011, and called for the withdrawal of its ambassadors from Damascus.
The last Saudi statements about its relationship with Syria were on the fourth of April last year, when the Saudi Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan, said in an interview with “CNN” that Saudi Arabia hopes the government of Assad will take appropriate steps to find a political solution as it is the only way to have a resolution for Syria.
Bin Farhan added that stability in Syria requires a compromise from the Syrian government, and the concerted efforts of it and the opposition so that we can move forward with a political process.
In response to a question about whether Saudi Arabia supports the Emirati position demanding the lifting of US sanctions on the Syrian regime under the Caesar Act, the Saudi minister said, “The important thing is to address the basic issue, which is finding a political solution. Without that, we will not be able to move forward.”