An article by Hassan Hassan in The Observer argues that “A counter-revolutionary axis, led by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, sees his [Assad’s] victory as part of their effort to reverse the legacy of the popular uprisings of 2011 and restore autocratic rule throughout the greater Middle East.” He tweeted that Egyptian security officials visited Manbij recently.
This ostensibly comes as the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait begin to improve diplomatic relations with Damascus. There is talk of Syria returning to the Arab League after being suspended in November 2011. Saudi Arabia, according to Donald Trump, is looking to invest more in eastern Syria, after sending $100 million in October.
Yusuf Erim comments “Looks like Saudi Arabia is mobilizing its proxies (UAE/Bahrain/Egypt) into the region in an anti-Turkey stance as payback for Khashoggi. If Yemen and Qatar are any indicator of how Saudi manages conflicts, we can expect MBS to turn Syria into a disaster again.”
On December 24 Ali Mamlouk, the Syrian intelligence chief went to Cairo for discussions. That was five days after Trump said he would leave Syria. Egypt also indicated, according to reports, that it could play a role in mediation. A meeting took place on December 28 in Tehran between the Egyptian interests section and Iranian officials, according to Anadolu. Hussein Ibish writing at The National in the UAE thinks that now the Gulf states might play a role in Syria, helping the regime reduce Iran’s influence. Meanwhile Al-Arabiya reports that US forces already left one base in eastern Syria.
The story of Saudi Arabia or other countries such as Egypt playing a role in eastern Syria appears far-fetched for now. In October 2017 the Saudi Gulf Affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan visited Raqqa and nothing happened after.