High hopes for Saudi-Syrian summit

The sight of an Arab leader clambering out of an aircraft to begin a two-day official visit to another Arab country does not normally stir much excitement. But the long-awaited appearance of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah in the Syrian capital, Damascus, was one of those rare events that clearly flags the arrival of changing times, and raises hopes of better ones. The two countries have played leading roles on opposite sides of the sharp rift that has divided the Arab World in recent years, at odds over every one of the region's many intractable and interlinked problems.

Even if the Saudi-Syrian rapprochement gains further ground, nobody really expects the Syrians to break with their Iranian allies.

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