Thursday, February 22, 2024

Syria crisis: Arab states need new approach, says Saudi foreign minister

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said a consensus was building in the Arab world that isolating Syria was not working. Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said that dialogue with Damascus was needed “at some point” to at least address humanitarian issues, including the return of refugees, Reuters reported.

“You will see not just among the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) but in the Arab world there is a consensus growing that the status quo is not workable,” he said.

Saudi Arabia among other Arab countries backed rebels that fought Bashar al-Assad in the 12-year civil war that destroyed Syria.

Al Saud’s remarks at a Munich security forum come weeks after deadly earthquakes killed thousands in war-torn Syria.

Riyadh has sent aid to government-held territory in Syria as part of earthquake relief efforts after initially sending aid only to the country’s opposition-held northwest.

Shunned by the West, Assad has been basking in an outpouring of support from Arab states that normalised ties with him in recent years, notably the United Arab Emirates which aims for Arab influence in Syria to counter that of Iran.

Other Arab states remain wary and US sanctions on Syria remain a complicating factor.

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