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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Is Muhommad Bin Salman trying to strike a deal with Assad?

Andrew Korybko |

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman recently acknowledged that Syrian President Assad will more than likely remain in office.

He said this groundbreaking remark during an interview with Time Magazine, at which time he also expressed his hopes that President Assad would decrease his strategic dependence on Iran. The first part of this announcement represents a pragmatic geopolitical admission that aligns with his ambitious reform agenda at home in rolling back Wahhabism – to which end he also told the Washington Post in an earlier interview that this ideology’s global proselytization was pushed by the West in the late Cold War era to counter the USSR – while the second part could have been expected given  that Saudi Arabia’s leading role in the Hybrid War of Terror on Syria was always about “containing” Iran.

About that, Hezbollah Secretary General Nasrallah recently informed the world of a secret meeting between high-ranking Saudi and Syrian officials where Riyadh supposedly offered Damascus billions of dollars of reconstruction aid in exchange for cutting ties with Tehran, though the Arab Republic supposedly refused. Still, MBS’ “friendly” follow-up remark about recognizing that President Assad will remain in office could be read as Riyadh tacitly asking Damascus to reconsider this offer due to the strategic situation in the country and the regional balance of forces in general.

Read more: Desert Kingdom in transition: Will Muhammad Bin Salman be the real…

The US and its “Israeli” & Saudi “Lead From Behind” allies will do everything in their power to prevent a so-called Iranian “land bridge” to Lebanon via Syria – whether real or imagined – while Syria and Iran don’t have the conventional (key word) military capabilities to counter this. Moreover, Russia and Turkey have signaled that they’ll passively accept whatever happens and won’t get involved in this simmering conflict, hence why Moscow regularly allows Tel Aviv to bomb Syria as long as it says that it’s doing so in order to “counter” Iran or Hezbollah.

The conflict will therefore continue to drag on unless something serious changes, which is why MBS may have offered President Assad a breakthrough deal such as the one that he gave to former Yemeni President Saleh to “switch sides”, and his reaffirmation of the Syrian leader’s democratic right to remain in office may have been Riyadh’s way of asking Damascus to reconsider its previous refusal. 


DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution. 

Andrew Korybko is a political analyst, journalist and a regular contributor to several online journals, as well as a member of the expert council for the Institute of Strategic Studies and Predictions at the People’s Friendship University of Russia. He specializes in Russian affairs and geopolitics, specifically the US strategy in Eurasia.