Last week, Qatar ruled out all chances of joining a regional wave of normalisation with the Syrian regime.
Saudi Arabia is reportedly planning to invite Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad to the Arab League Summit in Riyadh next month, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Sunday, despite opposition to normalise from countries like Qatar.
According to two sources, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan is travelling to Damascus “in coming weeks” to formally invite Assad to the summit, scheduled to take place on 19 May.
The Arab League had suspended Assad’s membership from the bloc in 2011 amid violent crackdowns on peaceful pro-democracy protests.
The latest report comes weeks after sources told Reuters that Riyadh and Damascus reached an agreement to open their embassies after Ramadan.
While Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry did not confirm such an agreement, it said talks were taking place over the resumption of consular services.
However, the Saudi government and the foreign ministries of Riyadh and Damascus did not respond to the news agency’s request for a comment over the invitation.
Meanwhile, Arab League secretary general spokesperson, Gamal Roshdy told Reuters that the bloc is not aware of bilateral moves of its 22 members.
“We are not supposed to be informed in advance about the assumed visit,” Roshdy said.
More reports pointing to the possible resumption of ties between Saudi Arabia and the Syrian regime emerged after reconciliation between Riyadh and Tehran last month, which was announced with Beijing’s mediation.
A source informed Reuters that Riyadh and Damascus have held discussions since last year over the former’s demands to resume ties.
The developments mark major regional shifts with regards to the Syrian regime following more than a decade of isolation.
On Saturday, Syria’s Foreign Minister Faisal Al-Mekdad travelled to Egypt in the first such high-level visit by a Syrian diplomat to Cairo.
An Egyptian security source told Reuters the regime official’s visit dealt with plans for Syria’s return to the Arab League with Egyptian and Saudi mediation.
Algeria made similar attempts last year in the lead-up to the previous Arab League Summit, though its efforts appeared to be blocked by the collective stance of regional countries who refused to reinstate the Assad regime, namely, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Last week, Qatar ruled out all chances of joining a regional wave of normalisation with the Assad regime, describing such a move as “a betrayal” to the victims of the crisis.
“Doha’s position is clear and consistent and is not affected by the interactions taking place, unless there is a development internally in Syria,” Dr. Majed Al Ansari, Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson said during a weekly press briefing.
Dr. Al Ansari noted that “there is no Arab consensus on normalisation with the regime at the present time” and there are no indications of developments in Syria.
Qatar has on multiple occasions renewed its stance in supporting investigations into crimes committed against Syrians by the Assad regime since the revolution.