Syria hopes the Iran-Saudi Arabia deal will ease regional tensions

DAMASCUS – Syria welcomed on Saturday the deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia resume diplomatic relations and reopen their embassies, as this will bring more stability to the region.

Iran has been a key backer of President Bashar Assad’s government, while Saudi Arabia supports opposition fighters trying to remove him from power.

Iran and Saudi Arabia on Friday agreed to resume diplomatic ties and reopen their embassies after seven years of tensions. The major diplomatic breakthrough negotiated with China reduces the likelihood of armed conflict between regional rivals, both direct and in proxy conflicts.

The deal was struck in Beijing amid the solemn National People’s Congress in China. It represents a major diplomatic victory for the Chinese as the Gulf Arab states believe the United States is slowly withdrawing from the wider Middle East. It also comes as diplomats have tried to end it The protracted conflict in Yemenin which both Iran and Saudi Arabia are deeply rooted.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted to normalize ties with Saudi Arabia, but the deal with Iran, Israel’s arch-rival, will complicate that. It could also leave Israel feeling lonelier if it decides to launch a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program as it nears weapon-ready levels.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry welcomed the deal in a statement, calling it an “important step towards strengthening security and stability in the region”.

It added that the agreement will also result in cooperation that “will positively reflect the common interests of the peoples of the two countries in particular, and the peoples of the region in general.”

After the February 6 earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria and killed more than 50,000 people, including more than 6,000 in Syria, Saudi Arabia was one of several Arab countries to provide aid to government-held parts of Syria.

The Saudi foreign ministry admitted this week that there was a “growing consensus” among Gulf monarchies and other Arab countries that isolation from Damascus was not working and that dialogue was needed. Syria’s membership of the Arab League, a coalition of Arab governments, was suspended in 2011 over its crackdown on protesters.

Syria’s conflict, entering its 13th year next week, has killed nearly half a million people and displaced half of the country’s pre-war population of 23 million.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. Syria hopes the Iran-Saudi Arabia deal will ease regional tensions

Sarah Y. Kim

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