Iran and Syria Sign Numerous Economic Deals
On Monday, representatives from Iran and Syria signed a number of agreements and memorandums of understanding concerning the Syrian economy. News of the deals comes at a time when many Iranian government officials have been emphasizing the need for the country to take a leading role in Syria’s economic recovery as the Syrian Civil War appears to be coming to an end.
Syria and Iran signed 11 agreements and memoranda of understanding, including a “long-term strategic economic cooperation” deal aimed at strengthening cooperation between Damascus and one of its key allies in the civil war that has torn the country apart.
Tehran has also reached “very important agreements on banking cooperation” with Syria, Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri said in the Syrian capital Damascus.
Iran will also help repair power stations across Syria and set up a new plant in the coastal province of Latakia, he added.
Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis said it was “a message to the world on the reality of Syrian-Iranian cooperation”, citing “legal and administrative facilities” to benefit Iranian companies wishing to invest in Syria and contribute “effectively to reconstruction.”Iran and Syria had already signed a military cooperation agreement in August while Tehran has supported Damascus economically during the conflict through oil deliveries and several lines of credit.
Iran has militarily supported Bashar al-Assad’s regime since the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2011. It appears that Iran wants more involvement in Syria’s post-war economy in order to increase its influence in the Levant region.
News of increasing cooperation between Iran and Syria will surely be of concern to Israel, which has repeatedly voiced concerns over Iran’s presence in Syria and the smuggling of sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah from Tehran to Lebanon via Syria, stressing that both are red lines for the Jewish state.
Israel has been cooperating with Russia, another supporter of Bashar al-Assad’s government, in order to try to limit Iran’s presence in Syria. However, just last week, a long-range missile was fired toward the northern Golan Heights from the vicinity of the Syrian capital of Damascus by Iranian forces, within an area the Israeli military claims the Russians promised was devoid of Iran’s military.
While Moscow has no interest in seeing an outbreak of open hostilities between Israel and Syria, its ability to control the Iranians is in doubt. Anna Borshchevskaya, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy, recently said, “it is wishful thinking to believe that Russia and Iran are going to separate. They have too many shared goals.”