BEIRUT, Lebanon, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- The visit to Syria by Saudi King Abdullah is a shift in bilateral relations that could have broader implications on the region, notably in Lebanon.
"The visit confirms a shift in Middle East politics," Paul Salem, an analyst with the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, said of the pending meeting.
Syrian and Saudi Arabian relations were strained in the wake of a U.N. resolution calling for the disarming of Hezbollah in 2004. Ties were further complicated in 2005 following the Syrian-tinged assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, an ally of the Saudi royal family.
Syria has sought to repair years of isolationist policies by moving closer to the region. Both countries hold significant influence over Lebanese politics, which are at a standstill following June parliamentary elections.
Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri stuttered in his attempts to form a new government following the victory for his March 14 coalition in June. With his latest attempts, however, opposition leaders, including members of Hezbollah, expressed confidence about the new government as the region watches the pending Syrian-Saudi courtship.
"It is like putting together a puzzle," said opposition leader Michel Aoun. "Only when it is done will you see it as a whole."