TUNIS (Reuters) – Tunisian
President Kais Saied has said he wants to see Tunisia and Syria appoint ambassadors to their countries, the latest sign that full restoration of diplomatic relations with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government could be imminent.
“A decision must be taken on this issue,” Saied told foreign minister Nabil Ammar during a meeting, according to a video posted on Facebook by the president’s office.
“Nothing can justify the absence of a Tunisian ambassador in Damascus and an ambassador from Syria in Tunis,” he said.
Saied further rejected any interference in the affairs of other countries, stressing that the issue of the Syrian government “is an internal matter that concerns only the Syrians.”
Tunisia cut off diplomatic relations with Syria nearly a decade ago after the foreign-backed war in Syria. The diplomatic split was strongly criticized by the opposition at the time.
Since Saied took control of almost all powers in July 2021 in what his political opponents have described as a coup, Tunisia has sent signals it was open to changing its diplomatic stance with Syria.
Tunisia reinstituted a limited diplomatic mission to Syria in 2017, in part to help track more than 3,000 Tunisian militants fighting in Syria.
Tunisia reinforced last month its diplomatic mission in Damascus with a diplomat, but with the president announcing that a decision must be taken, it is widely expected that the foreign ministry will name an ambassador in Damascus soon.
Several other Arab countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, in the past months, have sent similar signals, indicating that they too are prepared to resume ambassador-level diplomatic ties with the Syrian government.
Last month, a number of Arab parliament speakers and senior legislators visited Damascus as part of a concerted bid to restore Syria’s membership in the Arab League, more than a decade after it was suspended from the 22-member bloc.
The foreign-backed insurgency, which started in Syria in 2011, became a platform for the Daesh forces, and other Western-backed terrorist groups, to wreak havoc in the Arab country, and beyond its borders, particularly in Iraq.
Eventually, defense forces mobilized from Iran, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan were able to overpower the Daesh forces and push the terrorist Takfiri forces out of the region.