Speaking in an interview with the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Hassan Lasjerdi noted the presence of the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations at a diplomatic reception hosted by his Saudi counterpart and the grounds for close relations between the two countries and said: After the difficult developments in the Syrian crisis, especially over the past two years, the Arab current behind the crisis appears to be trying to return to the communications space after it failed to oust Bashar al-Assad so that it can control the Syrian government and manage the Arab world.
Saudi Arabia Is Trying to Change Approach on Syria
“Saudi Arabia has made political, financial and prestigious expenses in regional crises, especially in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, oil-related issues and issues concerning regional alliances such as the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League,” he said while costs did not have a good estimate or overall savings. For this reason, it is seeking to change its approach.
Lassjerdi described the role of power arrangement in Saudi Arabia in the last two or three years important and said: With the actions of the Saudi Crown Prince in pressuring the princes he managed the situation in their favour. Even now, given the opposition within the ruling establishment against the policies of Mohammed bin Salman, the view is that some shifts in the approach may reduce domestic pressure on the crown prince and allow him to play a role in Saudi decision-making.
The Middle East affairs analyst said some believe that despite the presence of the Saudi monarchy, the crown prince is playing a key role. So the crown prince must have at least some of the proclamation and action policies that Saudi Arabia has.
Saudis Want to Seize Opportunity to Return to Syrian Scene
Referring to the role of Saudi Arabia in dealing with the Syrian crisis, he said: “Saudi Arabia seeks to seize the opportunity to return to the Syrian scene, in the sense that they have initially voiced an interest in resuming diplomatic relations and, after some time, they would naturally open embassies. At the same time, the issue of Arab world relations is important to Saudi Arabia because they have already developed problems with Qatar. Moreover, some other countries specifically did not cooperate with Riyadh in some of the international Arab world meetings and events.
Resumption of Ties with Syria Breathing Space for Saudi Arabia
“The ruling establishment in Riyadh has concluded that it should make changes in its atmosphere of cooperation, support and coalition. The plan to resume relations with Syria, given Bashar al-Assad’s retention of power, could create a new breathing space to reduce some of the internal pressure on the crown prince and the ruling system in Riyadh.
Referring to the unfruitful meeting three years ago between the Syrian and Saudi officials and the prospect of future relations between Riyadh and Damascus, the analyst said: “In the Arab world the general rule is that since relations heavily depended on individuals they are vulnerable to the same extent. Therefore, meetings may take place, even at high levels, at different times and occasions, but everything could be ruined with a simple event or statement or even foreseen and unforeseen actions.”
He added: “It seems that political relations in the Arab world are not a function of the firm or fundamentally political rules, and any possibility in relations can be predicted.” This does not mean, of course, that the level of vulnerability it is so high that it is impossible to rely on any diplomatic advice.
Referring to the reopening of the UAE embassy in Damascus and statements by the UAE authorities that relations with Syria are strong and distinct, he said: “There have been at least some incidents in the Syrian field that can be considered a positive or a starting point. That some Arab countries, such as the Emirates, decided to restore diplomatic relations with Syria is simply because it has become a general trend, and even in some Arab conferences, because public opinion has been formed there, it can be relied upon as collective and supportive behaviour.
The Arab States Trying to Use Political Solutions with Syria
“Given the emotional behaviour of the Saudi Crown Prince, the ambassadorial visit, or even the opening of embassies and resumption of trade and security ties, cannot be long-term and is a function of regional conflicts,” the Arab affairs expert said. The idea of overthrowing the Syrian government has been abandoned and they are trying to use diplomatic means.
Russians Facilitate Arab Relations with Syria
Pointing to the role of Russia as a regional actor, the member of the editorial board of Khabar Online, said: “The Russians, who have had a calculated come back to the Middle East during the Putin era, are trying to have good relations especially with the Arab states. This shows that as an important and effective actor they can influence interactions between states. In Syria-related issues where the Russians play an important role, it seems that in the context of the backdrop or at least in the informal relations the Russians can facilitate the relations of the Arab states with Syria, especially Saudi Arabia.
Concerning a statement by a Saudi official that past events on Syria would pass like a summer cloud, he commented on relations with Iran and said in relations between states and in diplomacy, the presence of a player does not negate another player. It is possible that the shares may be exchanged, but the principle of relations is not affected.
Not Much Hope Syrian Ties with the Arab States Would Be Warm
“In Syria’s relations with Iran and Saudi Arabia, it seems we should not be too hopeful about Syria’s warm relations with the Arab countries,” he added. Because we have seen the behaviour of these countries in the Syrian crisis. The role they played in creating hurdles and invested against the Syrian government and dispatched armed groups, their positions and oppositions, and the international plans that followed, all of which cannot be erased from the memory of the Syrian people and government, and we cannot say now that they have shown a green light, it will all disappear.
He said: On the other side of the equation, Iran stood by Syria. These relations are quite different from what occurs in the Arab world that a non-Arab country to stand alongside an Arab state. Because these two countries have been standing together several times. The atmosphere of Iranian-Syrian relations is beyond the normal diplomatic relations, so it does not seem even the green light or desire or even the green door that Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, are showing in investing in Arab world relations and security issues would be a serious impediment to Iran-Syria relations.