Hassan Hassan writes: Last week, a 12-member delegation from the Syrian opposition visited Saudi Arabia, for an unprecedented two-day official meeting.
Saudi authorities had consistently declined to meet the opposition, despite repeated requests. This was partly because the kingdom has opposed Muslim Brotherhood dominance in the Syrian National Council and then the National Coalition, owing to the Brotherhood’s alliance with Qatar and Turkey and opposition to inclusivity.
But last week, surprisingly, the Saudi foreign minister, Saud Al Faisal, met Syrian Brotherhood deputy leader Mahmoud Farouq Tayfour, in one-to-one talks.
The Brotherhood had previously been confident in its alliance with Qatar and Turkey, and saw no need to offer concessions to engage other countries, including Saudi Arabia. So this meeting, which came after an “eager appeal” from the Brotherhood, suggests a shift in regional dynamics.
Two separate sources close to the opposition say Mr Tayfour assured the Saudi minister that “Syria’s Brotherhood will definitely not be like Egypt’s Brotherhood”.
He also “harshly” criticised Qatar’s role, even though Qatar had helped revive the Brotherhood in Syria after the Baathists massacred it out of existence in 1982. [Continue reading…]