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Saudi Arabia, Syria Embrace Thaw in Relations, Agree to Combat Drug Trafficking

This is a crucial sign that the isolation of Syria from the rest of the region is set to end

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Sadaf Hasan
Sadaf Hasan
Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

SAUDI ARABIA/ SYRIA: The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Syria embraced a thaw in bilateral relations on Wednesday, including initiatives to resume flights and consular services, and decided to cooperate to fight drug trafficking and make it easier for Syria to reintegrate into the Arab fold.

Faisal Mekdad, Syria’s Foreign Minister, landed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Wednesday, marking the arrival of the first senior Syrian diplomat to go to the nation in more than ten years. This is a crucial sign that the isolation of Syria from the rest of the region is set to end.

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Saudi Arabia, a major player in the Gulf, severed ties with Damascus in response to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s savage suppression of nonviolent protests in 2011 and supported rebel organisations that sought to overthrow Assad. Syria was suspended from the Arab League as well.

The resumption of relations between Saudi Arabia and Syria marks the most significant milestone in moves by Arab nations to normalise relations with Assad. It occurs weeks after Mekdad met with Jordan’s and Egypt’s top diplomats, also for the first time in more than ten years. 

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Assad, with the assistance of his main allies Russia and Iran, has regained control of a significant chunk of Syria, and Saudi Arabia has stated that isolating him wasn’t working.

Both parties agreed that the Syrian state must exert its control over all of its territories “and end the presence of armed militias” in a joint statement released after the visit on Wednesday.

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The two ministers also talked about the actions necessary for a political solution to the Syrian conflict that helps “Syria return to its Arab environment” and declared they would work more closely together to fight drug trafficking.

The United States and European countries, among others, have indicted the Assad family for playing a key role in the billion-dollar illicit trade of captagon, an amphetamine they claim is produced in Syria and aids in funding the Syrian government.

It is believed that a large portion of it is sold to customers in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab nations. Assad’s administration refutes its involvement in drug production and smuggling, saying that it battles to stop the lucrative trade.

Mekdad’s visit to Jeddah occurs two days before Saudi Arabia hosts another gathering of regional foreign ministers to talk about Syria’s return to the Arab League.

Saudi Arabia intends to invite Assad to the Arab League summit that Riyadh is scheduled to host on May 19, an action that would formally end Assad’s regional isolation, sources said, though it is not obvious whether there is Arab consensus on this matter.

On Wednesday, Syria and Tunisia stated that they had also consented to reopen their respective embassies.

Also Read: Rockets Fired from Syria Causes Military in Israel to Retaliate 


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