The Failure of the Regime Change Policy

Rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Syria seals the failure of the Western – also German – regime change policy in the Middle East. Western domination in the region wanes.

DAMASCUS/BERLIN (Own report) – The rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Syria, after years of conflict, seals the failure of the Western – also German – regime change policy in the Middle East. Twelve years ago, the USA and European powers had attempted to use the protests against President Bashar al Assad to install a pro-Western lackey in Damascus. Concepts for Syria’s transition after Assad’s anticipated overthrow were drawn up eleven years ago. At the time, a member of the German foreign intelligence service was quoted saying, “we can be proud of our important contribution to the overthrow of the Assad regime.” The beginning of Russia’s military deployment in Syria, in September 2015, marked a turning point. And now, the governments of the Arabian Peninsula – once loyal partisans of the West, and fighting at its side to overthrow Assad – have begun to normalize their relations with Syria, parallel to a rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The reconciliation policy in the Middle East has been mediated by China and is heralding the end of Western domination over the region.

The Day After

Soon after the uprising against President Bashar al Assad began in March 2011, the Western powers, including Germany, came to the aid of the insurgents in Syria with the aim of replacing Assad with a pro-Western lackey. In August 2012, the West appeared to reach its objective. “There are many indications that the regime’s final phase has begun,” Gerhard Schindler, the President of the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) was quoted to have said.[1] At that time the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin concluded a project that has been drawn up over several months. Under the title “The Day After”, nearly four dozen representatives of the Syrian opposition in exile, in consultation with German government agencies, had developed plans for Syria’s transition after Assad’s anticipated overthrow.[2] At the same time, the German foreign ministry was involved in drawing up plans for Syria’s “economic reconstruction” and “development” also following Assad’s overthrow, within the framework of a loose alliance of states („Friends of Syria”) and in cooperation with the United Arab Emirates.[3] At the time, a member of the BND openly boasted: “we can be proud of our important contribution to the overthrow of the Assad regime.”[4]

No Regime Change

Contrary to the BND’s projection, Assad was not toppled in the summer of 2021 and could remain in power in Damascus. The beginning of Russia’s military deployment in Syria, in September 2015, marked a turning point. Moscow’s armed forces played a decisive role in preventing Assad’s overthrow, particularly by jihadi militias. Following a short and fierce confrontation with Turkey – a Turkish fighter jet had shot down a Russian military aircraft over Syria on November 24, 2025 – and after Syrian troops reconquered Aleppo with Russian support, Moscow succeeded – in close coordination with Turkey – to determine the course of action with the exclusion of Western powers, particularly the USA, who, until then, had been dominating over the Middle East.[5] While Russia continues to back Assad, and Turkey is occupying large territories in northern Syria,[6] the US military presence is today limited to northeastern Syria, where they have – illegally – deployed around 900 soldiers at their own discretion and against the will of the Syrian government. US special forces are also operating in the region. Combating IS is their declared objective. In reality, US troops are targeting pro-Iranian forces and preventing Damascus from gaining access to a major oil field from which they reportedly are serving themselves.[7]

Syria’s Comeback

Meanwhile, states on the Arabian Peninsula are beginning to change their course in relationship to Syria. Whereas, at first, beginning back in 2011, they had sided with the West and promoted Assad’s overthrow – including supporting jihadi militias – they are now changing course. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) were first to take steps in this direction. Already at the end of 2018, they began normalizing diplomatic relations with Damascus – in spite of massive pressure, particularly from the United States. Whereas the EU and the USA were launching a new attempt to overthrow Assad – with a brutal intensification of their sanctions against Syria [8] – the Emirates stayed their course. In November 2021, the Emirati foreign minister visited Damascus for the first time since the beginning of the civil war. In March 2022, Assad paid his first visit to the United Arab Emirates. Washington protested, saying it was “profoundly disappointed,” however was unable to dissuade Abu Dhabi to alter its course toward expanding cooperation with Syria.[9] On March 19, the Emirati ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan very ceremoniously received Assad in Abu Dhabi. “Syria has been away from its brothers for too long,” he said, “and it is time that he comes back to them and his Arab environment.”[10]

“New Geopolitical Characteristics”

Following the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia is now also pivoting toward a policy of cooperation with Syria. Riyadh began to draw closer to Damascus a bit later than Abu Dhabi. Following initial semi-official visiting contacts in late 2019, it was said in May 2021 that the head of the Saudi General Intelligence Directorate (GID), visited Damascus to meet with his Syrian counterpart. Their talks also touched on the reduction of tensions between their two countries.[11] A Syrian opponent of the government, who maintains close contacts with the GID, was quoted in June 2021 with the prediction that in Riyadh the ‘times have changed, and the region is transitioning towards “a new future,” – “with new geopolitical characteristics.” From within the Syrian foreign ministry it is considered, on the other hand, that Riyadh wants to dampen its conflict with Tehran and through a reduction of tensions with Damascus, it is signaling that it no longer seeks the overthrow the Iran-backed government of Syria.[12] At the time, Saudi Arabia was in fact seeking a settlement with Iran and was already engaged in negotiations with its traditional rival – under Iraqi and Omani mediation. After the negotiations stalled in the spring of 2022, China stepped in as mediator.

The End of Western Domination

The People’s Republic succeeded on March 10 in mediating an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran to renew their diplomatic relations, as well as to initiate broader cooperation, including an intensification of their economic relations. ( reported.[13]) At the beginning of the week, it was made known that the foreign ministers of both states would soon be meeting – even before the end of the month of Ramadan (the Muslim month of fasting) – April 21.[14] In addition, Saudi Arabia and Syria are now planning to reopen their embassies and restart their consular services. This should take place soon after the end of Ramadan.[15] Beijing has expressed satisfaction about the Middle East rapprochement tendencies. They are happening thanks, not least of all, to China’s mediation, and are heralding in a new era in the region – one in which Western domination is waning that, ten years ago, was still trying to impose regime change – to no avail.


More on the subject: The End of US Domination at the Persian Gulf (III)


[1] Syrische Armee feuert nach Jordanien. 11.08.2012.

[2] See also The Day After and The Day After (IV).

[3] See also Im Rebellengebiet.

[4] Deutsches Spionageschiff kreuzt vor Syrien. 19.08.2012.

[5] See also dazu Aleppo, Mossul und die Hegemonie and Keine Ordnungsmacht.

[6] See also. Die „Türkisierung” Nordsyriens and Die Invasionsmacht als Partner.

[7] Lolita C. Baldor: A look at the US military mission in Syria and its dangers. 24.03.2023.

[8] See also Scorched Earth Policy

[9] Assad: Syria’s leader makes historic visit to UAE. 19.03.2022.

[10] Präsident der Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate fordert Ende der Isolation Syriens. 20.03.2023.

[11], [12] Matthew Ayton: ‘Times have changed’: Saudi Arabia-Syria in rapprochement talks. 08.06.2021.

[13] See also The End of US Domination at the Persian Gulf (III)

[14] Saudi, Iran foreign ministers to meet during Ramadan. 27.03.2023.

[15] Saudi Arabia and Syria ‘in talks to restore ties’. 24.03.2023.