Damascus has closed its embassies in Riyadh, Kuwait and Washington in an unexpected move not said to have any political dimensions, Syrian diplomatic sources said.
The decision was attributed to the harassment experienced by Syrian diplomatic missions in those countries, especially when it comes to the issues of renewal of residency permits, moving within these countries, granting entry visas for new diplomats, or abusing Syrian diplomats during their entry and exit from those countries.
The sources pointed out that what happened cannot be called closure of embassies, despite being empty of their employees, but could rather be seen as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs calling back its diplomats to return to their country without appointing any replacements.
Most of the countries that are hostile to the Syrian government want to close their embassies, but were confronted with the status quo whereby the Syrian state retains its international legitimacy and makes it impossible for them to do so, being the only body authorised to issue passports and official documents for its nationals.
The official website of the Syrian Embassy in Saudi Arabia published an announcement, on its homepage, directed to the nationals of the Syrian Arab Republic residing in Saudi Arabia, saying “We call upon all those who have applied for any consulate document and have not collected it yet, to visit the Syrian Embassy in Riyadh for collection, no later than 10 days from today’s date, March 11, 2014”.
Saudi authorities closed the Saudi embassy in Damascus in March 2012 when all the Saudi diplomats, estimated to be 25, as well as embassy guards, who are also Saudis and estimated at 15 personnel, left Damascus. This came a month after Saudi Arabia demanded the Syrian ambassador leave its soil due to the continuation of violence and military operations in Syria.
The Syrian embassy in Washington has apologised for not being able to receive any new requests for extending and renewing passports of those residing in the United States and Canada as of March 10, 2014, for technical reasons.