Tunisian President Kais Saied said on Friday 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 al-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.
Tunisia cut off diplomatic relations with Syria nearly a decade ago to protest Assad’s brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in 2011 that developed into civil war in which hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed and millions sent fleeing.
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.
Assad is seeking political advantage from the earthquakes last month that struck Syria and Turkey, pressing for foreign aid to be delivered through his territory as he aims to chip away at his international isolation, political analysts said.
Tunisia sent aid planes to Syria, including rescue and civil protection teams, which arrived at Aleppo airport under the control of Assad’s government.