Syrian President Bashar al Assad arrived in Riyadh on Thursday on his third visit to Saudi Arabia in a matter of months. The visit, of course, is an indication that relations between the two countries are continuously improving.
What’s new and important about this visit is the expectation of “Arab diplomats” in Damascus that the Saudi-Syrian summit might develop and become a tripartite summit with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria taking part. It would be excellent if that happens and it would be a joyous event and might indicate the return of the important Arab political triangle comprising of Riyadh, Cairo and Damascus.
There are those who think by looking at the situation in Lebanon or at ties with Iran, one can measure the level of improvement in Saudi-Syrian ties and there are others who think that the way to measure the level of improvement in Syrian-Egyptian ties is through the success of inter-Palestinian reconciliation.
I believe that none of this is important in comparison to another matter that is threatening the three Arab countries. There is another challenge that is not being discussed and is threatening Arab countries in general and the three countries that this article is about in particular. This challenge is the threat of groups towards the concept and entity of the Arab state, whether they are religious, terrorist or armed groups. There is Hezbollah in Lebanon, which has come to represent a military force that is stronger than the Lebanese army, and is so arrogant now that its leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is starting to tell Egypt what it should and should not do. In fact Hezbollah cells are active in Egypt, which has exerted great efforts for the sake of the Palestinian Cause whist Hamas, on the other hand, attempts to endanger Egypt’s security and to blackmail it in the media.
Whilst Saudi Arabia is confronting the terrorism of the Al Qaeda organization with all its might, and is seeking to unite the Arabs with all its power and to unify the ranks, we find that another front is being opened on Saudi’s southern border with the Huthis with the aim of preoccupying Riyadh and inciting Yemen internally against it. Not to mention the media wrangling launched by the Iraqi government against Saudi Arabia recently.
There is an old proverb that the people of Mecca know their own backstreets. As for the Syrians, they have witnessed sensitive cases of murder and terrorist operations in the past few years [and these were] unprecedented in a state where security is the primary concern. This is a dangerous matter and the Syrians know best as to what happened and what is happening in their own country and who is behind it. The Syrians will not excuse all that has happened but what concerns us more today is the safety of our Arab states rather than [where to place the] blame or digging up the distant or not-so-distant past.
Therefore, inasmuch as President Bashar al Assad’s visit to Riyadh is good news, especially as the visit of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz to Damascus was not that long ago, to top it with a three-way Arab summit bringing together Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria would be more important because it would be evidence that the aforementioned Arab countries realize the seriousness of the threats that are plotted against them and the importance of prioritizing interests above everything else.