Tunisian president seeks resumption of diplomatic ties with Syria
This represents the recent Arab embrace of Syria following the devastating earthquake that struck the country last month
By News Desk - March 11 2023

(Photo credit: Reuters)

Tunisian President Kais Saied said on 10 March that he is seeking a reappointment of ambassadors between his country and Syria, representing the growing Arab consensus to reintegrate the Syrian government into the regional fold.

“A decision must be taken on this issue,” Saied was quoted to have told Tunisia’s Foreign Minister Nabil Ammar during a meeting.

“Nothing can justify the absence of a Tunisian ambassador in Damascus and an ambassador from Syria in Tunis … The question of the regime in Syria concerns only the Syrian people, and we deal with the Syrian state,” the president added.

On 9 February, following the devastating earthquake that struck Turkiye and Syria, Saeid disclosed that the two countries were set to restore diplomatic relations, which Tunisia severed in 2012 as a result of what western and Gulf media claimed was the government’s ‘brutal crackdown on protests.’

Since 2021, Saied expressed an openness to upgrading his country’s diplomatic relations with the Syrian government.

This represents the growing embrace that Syria has witnessed from several Arab countries since the devastating quake struck the country on 6 February.

Countries such as Saudi Arabia, a principal instigator of the Syrian war, expressed the need to end the international and regional isolation of Syria – isolation which Washington continues to encourage despite its impediment of humanitarian aid to the disaster-stricken nation.

In 2017, Tunis reinstituted a limited diplomatic mission in Syria in order to track over 3,000 Tunisian militants fighting with the opposition.

The presence of foreign militants in Syria has been recorded as early as 2011, despite claims to the contrary by the opposition, which maintains until this day that there was no armed, anti-government activity in the country until 2012. This is despite the fact that armed men were filmed crossing the border into Syria from Iraq in 2011 by Al-Jazeera journalist Ali Hashem, whose video was suppressed by the Qatari-funded media outlet.

Militants from Tunisia, in particular, were present in Syria as early as 2011.

In 2014, writer and analyst on West Asian geopolitics, Sharmine Narwani, wrote – citing a Tunisian television report – that “a Tunisian jihadist who goes by the name of Abu Qusay, told Tunisian television that his ‘task’ in Syria [in 2011] was to destroy and desecrate mosques with Sunni names,” as well as to write “pro-government and blasphemous slogans on mosque walls” in order to incite sectarian tension and instigate defections from the Syrian army.

“It was a ‘tactic,’ he [said], to get the soldiers to ‘come on our side’ so that the army can become weak,” Narwani cited the Tunisian militant as saying. Actions such as this, as well as foreign funding, resulted in the Syrian military defections that triggered the rise of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in 2011.

The Tunisian television report has since been removed from YouTube.

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