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News > Iran

Iran Consolidates All-Round Ties With Syria

  • Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (L) and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R), 2023.

    Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (L) and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R), 2023. | Photo: Twitter/ @TehranTimes79

Published 5 May 2023

The new developments suggest that the region is moving from the regional clashing stage to the regional interaction stage.

Following a change in the regional atmosphere toward Syria with major Arab powers normalizing their ties with Damascus, the latest visit of Iran's president to Syria signals Iran's willingness to boost its all-around relationship with its longtime ally in Damascus as the war is almost over.


Iranian President Arrives in Syria on Landmark Visit

Since late last year, the wind of change in the region started to be felt with a flurry of diplomatic activities to bring Syrian back to the Arab fold. The Gulf States have changed rhetoric toward Syria following years of isolation and severed ties with Damascus.

The United Arab Emirates was spearheading the efforts to break the ice between Syria and Saudi Arabia, succeeding this year in making a breakthrough that saw the two countries restoring diplomatic relations and foreign ministers visiting each other.

In tandem with the UAE efforts, Iran and Russia were working on fixing the shattered relations between Syria and Türkiye, managing to push the two sides to hold a couple of meetings on the level of defense ministers and deputy foreign ministers.

Experts say all the signs over the past few months suggest that Syria is finally on the first step toward a political settlement; at least, that's what the regional climate suggests.

As for Iran, a longtime ally of Syria, particularly during the war, the Iranian military aid to Syria was crucial in propping up the Syrian government forces in key battlefields, mainly in the northern province of Aleppo and the eastern Deir al-Zour province, among other areas.

And now that the war is winding down in Syria, Iran is consolidating its good relations with Syria by being a part of the future economic development of the war-torn country.

On Wednesday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi embarked on a two-day visit to Syria, becoming the first Iranian president to visit Syria after the outbreak of the Syrian war in 2011. One of his essential comments lauded Syria's victory in emerging from a 12-year conflict.

"Syria's government and people have gone through tremendous hardships, and today we can say that you have weathered and overcome all these problems and achieved victory despite the threats and sanctions imposed against you," Raisi told Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during their meeting, according to the state news agency SANA.

During the meeting, Assad and Raisi signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) for "long-term and comprehensive cooperation" in various fields, mainly in the fields of oil, communications, civil aviation, railways, and agriculture, among others.

After signing the MOUs, Assad said that the talks with Raisi had mainly centered on economic issues. He noted that the projects under discussion would give the bilateral relations a "strong boost."

Both sides also held a meeting at the end of Raisi's visit on Friday morning, discussing the economic steps that will be taken during the next stage in the fields of power, power plants, tourism, joint investment projects, as well as accelerating the necessary procedures to establish a cooperative bank to facilitate trade exchange, according to SANA.

In a separate meeting with Syrian Prime Minister Hussein Arnous, Raisi stressed the Iranian companies' willingness to actively join Syria's reconstruction process. Experts in Syria lauded Raisi's visit as of great significance as it has far-reaching and profound implications.

"This visit sends a message that Syrian-Iranian relations are steady and ongoing and will not change as part of any settlement in the future," said Osama Danura, a Syrian political expert.

Danura noted that economic cooperation is a critical factor in the visit, saying that Syria is developing an economic approach toward the East in light of the Western economic sanctions and policies toward Syria. Danura pointed out that Syria needs economic integration with key countries such as Iraq and Iran to boost economic cooperation with the East.

For example, he noted that one of the important economic cooperation deals with Iran was the railways, saying that the plan is to link Iranian ports with Syrian ports via a railroad.

Danura said that that was a part of the economic integration plan, noting that Iran and Syria are determined to refuse the Western hegemony by deepening and consolidating their alliance.

"This economic networking accompanying the visit is a natural development of the strategic relations between the two countries, and it indicates a Syrian approach that seeks to liberate economic ties from the possibility of using them politically as a result of the well-known Western pressures and to find alternatives to Western markets," Danura said.

Muhammad al-Omari, another Syrian political expert and writer, said that Raisi's visit reflects the elevation of bilateral relations to a higher level, which is most important to Syria which is undergoing the reconstruction process.

He noted that the upgraded relations that were under the spotlight during Raisi's visit come as the situation on the ground in Syria has become largely safe amid a positive Arab vibe toward Syria and the Russian effort to resolve the stalemated ties between Syria and Türkiye, as well as the Chinese-mediated reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

"The new developments suggest that the region is moving from the regional clashing stage to the regional interaction stage," al-Omari said. 

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