The kingdom backed the Syrian opposition against Damascus government during Syria’s uprising-turned-civil war that began in 2011. However, in recent years a regional rapprochement has been brewing. Last month’s devastating earthquake in Syria and Turkey sparked international sympathy and speeded up the process, with Saudi and other Arab countries shipping aid to Damascus.
The restoration of diplomatic relations earlier this month between regional powerhouses Iran and Saudi Arabia, which since 2011 have supported rival groups in Syria’s conflict, may have been a turning point in Damascus’ political fortunes. The surprise Saudi-Iranian rapprochement, which came about via Chinese mediation, quickly had ripple effects around the region.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has publicly acknowledged that there is a growing consensus among Arab countries that dialogue with Damascus is necessary.
Saudi Arabia is hosting the next Arab League summit in May, where most states hope to restore Syria’s membership after it was suspended in 2011, the league’s secretary-general, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said earlier this month.
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