After closed door meetings between the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Russia in Moscow, Riyadh made it clear that it was not changing its stance against President Assad.
Minister Adel Al Jubeir said during a joint press conference after the meeting that the debate over the fate of the Syrian president is a closed chapter for his government while his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, called for the unity of the forces on the ground to effectively combat ISIS.
The meeting was expected to be a positive turning point in solving the Syrian war where Moscow backs the Assad regime and Riyadh supports some of the regime’s opponents.
Jubeir ruled out any peace deal that will include Assad as he stated that Riyadh considers the Assad question “solved” because “there is no place in Syria for Bashar Al Assad.”
Yury Barmin, a Moscow-based Middle East analyst, said Russia, which has recently shown flexibility in the Syrian dossier, does agree that “Assad should leave (power), yet it’s not clear when” because they will like to guarantee him a “safe exit.”
Minister Lavrov said ending the Syrian war calls for the “need to unite all the groups on the ground” since the airstrikes of the U.S-led coalition in which Saudi Arabia is taking part “will not help to fight and prevail over ISIS.”
Jubeir admitted that they have an “identical approach as Russia” regarding the fight against “extremism and terrorism” but stressed that its troops won’t collaborate with the Syrian army. Saudi Arabia has suffered suicide bomb attacks claimed by ISIS.
Saudi’s position in Syria was described by Mustafa Alani, a security analyst with close ties to Riyadh, as a move to occupy “the seat of the Arab leadership” that “has been vacant for too long.”