Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
According to Arab media, Bashar al-Assad will attend the Arab League summit on Friday after Syria was reinstated into the regional organization after 11 years this month.
Al-Assad and his government were ousted in 2011 by a brutal crackdown on opposition protesters and the ensuing devastating war in Syria, according to Al Jazeera.
But the arrival of the Syrian president in Saudi Arabia is the latest example of an attempt by the majority of Arab states to restore relations.
The host country was previously a key supporter of armed opposition groups seeking to overthrow Assad during the Syrian civil war.
But in recent months Riyadh has pushed for talks to end the conflict, which has killed 500,000 people and displaced half of Syria’s pre-war population.
Bashar al-Assad’s forces have taken control of much of Syria, thanks to key allies Russia and Iran that have helped tip the balance of power in their favor.
It should be noted that relations between Syria and Saudi Arabia have been strained since Bashar al-Assad assumed power after the death of former president Hafez al-Assad in 2000. The two countries severed ties in 2012. Last week they agreed to reopen their embassies.
Steps towards reunification with Syrian Arab states go back at least to 2018, when the United Arab Emirates re-established ties with Damascus.
The process accelerated after earthquakes struck northern Syria and southern Turkey in February, prompting an influx of aid from the region.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been pushing for peace in the region, and Riyadh has improved relations with Iran in recent months. It has restored ties with Syria and moved closer to ending the kingdom’s years-long involvement in the war in Yemen.
Iran, a key supporter of the Syrian government, signed an agreement in China in March to restore ties with Saudi Arabia.
A renewed Saudi-Iranian relationship will have a positive impact on countries in the Middle East where both sides support rival factions.