Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Saudi hosts Syria, Egypt in effort to end rift

Saudi hosts Syria, Egypt in effort to end rift

The leaders of the U.S.-allied Arab powerhouses, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, will meet this week with Syria's president in an effort to end a yearslong rift among Arab countries and blunt Iran's influence in the region.
Syria has been bitterly feuding with Egypt and Saudi Arabia over a string of political issues _ especially Damascus' close alliance with Iran and militant Palestinian and Lebanese groups. Wednesday's meeting between country's king and the presidents of Egypt and Syria is part of efforts to improve those frayed relations, said a Saudi diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Saudi Arabia has been trying to set the stage for an Arab truce ahead of an upcoming Arab League summit later this month in Qatar and has urged leaders to stand up to Iran's ambitions.
During a recent meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told Iran to stop interfering in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories _ all places where the predominantly Persian Iran has been accused of supporting militants.
Saudi King Abdullah's meeting with the Syrian and Egyptian leaders also comes at a time when the United States is making new overtures to Damascus as part of the Obama administration's effort to engage with America's foes and encourage Syria to move away from Iran. The leader of another U.S. ally, Kuwait, is also scheduled to attend the mini-Arab summit Wednesday, Kuwait's news agency reported.
"I think there is a need at a minimum before the (Arab) summit to end the conflict and not bring it there," said Abdul-Khaleq Abdullah, director of Dubai-based Gulf Research Center. "Priority No. 1 is to minimize the friction and the disagreements."
Abdullah was optimistic about the Saudi meeting and chances for Arab reconciliation, saying it could be "achievable for the first time."
But it was unclear if Wednesday's meeting would do much good toward ending the deep seeded disagreements.
Egypt has been struggling to reconcile rival Palestinian factions after Israel's three-week offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers and has blamed Iran and Syria for influencing the Palestinian militant group.
Cairo believes Tehran's and Damascus' efforts to foil Palestinian reconciliation was one of the reasons that led to Israel's assault on Gaza, which killed more than 1,300 Palestinians.
"No one interferes in the Egyptian effort or tries to foils it and there is no blackmailing," said Mohammed Ali Ibrahim, the editor-in-chief of the Egyptian government-run Al-Gomhouria newspaper, wrote in a recent editorial.
Iran and Syria also have long backed Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group in Lebanon, which predominantly Sunni Egypt and Saudi Arabia have opposed.
Syrian-Saudi relations also were strained after the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who had Saudi citizenship. The assassination has been blamed on Syria, a charge the country denies.
Relations soured even more after Syrian President Bashar Assad, in a speech following the summer 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, described leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan as half-men for their failure to act to stop the violence.


Updated : 2021-06-22 00:51 GMT+08:00