Saudi Arabia reaches out to Syria
The world is changing its attitude toward Syria, and we suspect the invisible hand of the US is behind the softening of opinions towards Damascus. We reported recently about how Turkey has welcomed Syria back into the fold. Now another regional power, Saudi Arabia, has shaken the hand of the once leper-state of Syria. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz has just wrapped up a goodwill visit to Damascus breaking tension between the two countries in relation to differing views about Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine.
Lebanon, however, has been the cause of recent tensions because Riyadh-backed prime minister-designate Saad Hariri has failed to reach agreement with the Shiite Hezbollah-led bloc supported by Syria. This standoff has seen Lebanon without a government since a general election in June, but now both Riyadh and Damascus are calling on the Lebanese factions to form a unity government as quickly as possible.
“A national unity government is the basis for stability, unity and strength in Lebanon,” SANA cited the Saudi and Syrian leaders as saying as Abdullah rounded off his first visit to Damascus since taking the throne in 2005.
“The visit might be a turning point in the whole Arab world,” Turki al-Sidiri, editor-in-chief of the Saudi al-Riyadh daily, told Al Arabiya.
He added that the “Saudi-Syrian talks mark the beginning of an Arab strategy that will change the deteriorating situations, especially that both Saudi Arabia and Syria are powerful states that are capable of achieving a lot of accomplishments.”
The decision of removing the obstackes hindering closer ties could contribute to helping stabilize Iraq, which borders both countries, and to ending a political stalemate in Lebanon, where Riyadh and Damascus have great influence and have been on opposite sides of the fence.