DECEMBER 9, 2022
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Opinion: Why are Israel and U.S. upset over Saudi-Syrian détente?

Opinion: Why are Israel and U.S. upset over Saudi-Syrian détente?

By Ali Karbalaei 

According to Israeli media, resumption of ties between Saudi Arabia and Syria have created a state of anxiety inside the apartheid Israeli regime.

It's not just the rapprochement between Riyadh and Saudi Arabia that is worrying the occupying regime. The Saudi move to fully restore diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran and Riyadh’s efforts to bring a ceasefire in Yemen is also bringing major concern to Israel and the United States along with the American arms manufacturers, which are already seeking new customers.

The Israeli "Kan" channel said that there is an indication from the Saudis of a change in policy when it comes to the Palestinian resistance, saying "when we connect all the dots regarding reconciliation with Iran and rapprochement with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Sana'a, this, from Israel's point of view, is definitely a cause for concern." 

The channel has described the visit of Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud to Damascus as historic, saying it was the first visit since the beginning of the war on Syria 12 years ago.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad held talks with the Saudi Foreign Minister at the presidential palace on Tuesday. 

The Syrian presidency said in a statement that President Assad assured the Saudi foreign minister that "the healthy relations between Syria and the Kingdom are the normal state, and reflect an Arab and regional interest as well."

The Syrian presidency also quoted Bin Farhan as saying that he expressed his country's confidence in Syria's ability to overcome the effects of the war, stressing that "the kingdom stands by its side."

The top Saudi diplomat earlier revealed an Arab effort to formulate a dialogue that will "inevitably" take place with Damascus, in consultation with the international community, saying that "there is a dialogue for Syria's return to the Arab embrace."

The visit of the Saudi foreign minister to Damascus took place days after he invited his Syrian counterpart, Faisal Al-Mikdad, to visit Riyadh. Miqdad travelled to the kingdom last week for the first time in more than 12 years to hold talks on efforts to reach a political solution on the Syrian crisis, to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland, and to secure the arrival of humanitarian aid to the affected areas in the country.

This comes after Iran and Saudi Arabia announced in a joint statement on April 6 in Beijing to resume diplomatic relations, in response to an initiative by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

According to Ali Shamkhani, the Secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi’s state visit to China earlier this year led to "new and very serious" negotiations between the delegations of Iran and Saudi Arabia.

It follows efforts by Saudi Arabia to bring about a ceasefire in Yemen. Following three days of prisoner exchanges facilitated by Riyadh and Sana'a, the Kingdom released more than 100 extra Yemeni prisoners of war.

According to the state-run Saudi Press Agency, Brigadier General Turki al-Maliki
said this was part of “efforts to stabilize the ceasefire and create an atmosphere of dialogue between the Yemeni parties to reach a comprehensive and sustainable political solution that ends the Yemeni crisis.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross described the Saudi step as "unilateral", which is seeking a permanent ceasefire in Yemen. 

Last week, a Saudi delegation traveled to Sana'a to establish a more durable ceasefire. Although the discussions ended without a truce, an agreement to meet again was reached.

The additional release was to help the ceasefire efforts, the kingdom said. Both sides will continue their talks after Eid al-Fitr, the holiday later this week that marks the end of the Islamic holy fasting month of Ramadan.

The talks between the top Saudi diplomat and Syria's President in Damascus will further anger the United States which is against any Arab restoration of ties with Damascus.

CIA director Bill Burns has told Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman that Washington feels "blindsided" by Riyadh’s moves to restore ties with Iran and Syria as the kingdom's embarks on an independent foreign policy.

Consecutive occupants of the White House have imposed harsh sanctions on Syria.

But the calls from Washington have fallen on deaf ears as the government of President al-Assad has over the past months seen a diplomatic flurry of normalization ties with fellow Arab countries.

Bin Farhan's visit was the first by a top diplomat from Saudi Arabia to Damascus since ties were ruptured 12 years ago when the foreign-backed war on Syria began.

The meeting discussed steps needed for a political solution to Syria's conflict that would preserve its Arab identity and return it to "its Arab surroundings", Saudi state media said.

Assad said the kingdom's "open and realistic policies" benefited the region, Syria's state news agency reported.

For its part, the official Saudi Press Agency, SPA, said, "The Saudi foreign minister conveyed, at the beginning of the reception, the greetings of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the Syrian president, and their wishes for the brotherly government of Syria and its people, security and stability."

The agency pointed out that "during the reception, they discussed efforts to reach a political solution on the Syrian crisis that preserves unity, security, stability, Arab identity, and territorial integrity."

The Saudi foreign minister stressed to the Syrian president "the importance of providing an appropriate environment for aid to reach all regions in Syria, creating the necessary conditions for the return of Syrian refugees and displaced persons to their areas, ending their suffering, enabling them to return safely to their homeland, and taking further measures that would contribute to stability and the situation in all of the Syrian territory," according to the Saudi Agency.

The statements made no mention of an Arab League summit that Riyadh is due to host next month. 

But Damascus has repeatedly stated that more important than its return to the Arab League is its relations with neighboring countries, as an invitation to the Arab League would have no meaning if ties with Arab states remain cold. 

Syria's foreign minister, who recently visited Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and Tunisia among others, has said his country's return to the Arab League would be "almost impossible before correcting bilateral relations".

This would explain the fast-moving diplomatic meetings between Damascus and its Arab neighbors, something initially pushed for by Baghdad.

Source: Tehran Times

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