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Analysis

Iran-Syria Strategic Cooperation Document Picking Up Pace to Execution

Sunday 10 December 2023
Iran-Syria Strategic Cooperation Document Picking Up Pace to Execution

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Alwaght- As the year nears its end, Syrian Prime Minister Hussein Arnous arrived in Tehran on Friday heading a high-ranking political and economic delegation to open a new chapter in partnership with Iran. 

Arnous, who heads the Syrian side of Joint Economic Cooperation Room, met on Saturday Iranian Vice President Mohammad Mokhber. He described the Iranian-Syrian relations deep, historical, rooted, and strategic, adding: “The Syrian government and nation will not forget the support and honorable positions of the government and nation of Iran.” 

Holding that Iran and Syria are pro-independence and this is why they are subject to pressures of American and Western imperialism, Arnous continued: “Western countries always put pressure on Syria as one of the main pillars of the Axis of Resistance, but I assure you that the government and people of Syria will not change their positions and will always move in the direction of resistance. 

The Syrian PM described visit to Syria of Iranian President Sayyed Ibrahim Raisi as marking a turning point in bilateral relations and said that he hoped that the two nations soon will feel the effects of these “good agreements.” The Syrian official described Iran’s role in the Syria’s reconstruction period, adding that Damascus definitely works to make sure that Iran will be the principal and first partner in the reconstruction of Syria. 

Commenting on the objectives of the visit of the Syrian delegation to Tehran, the Iranian Deputy Presidential Chief of Staff for Political Affairs Mohammad Jamshidi said: “The 15th meeting of the Joint High Committee for Economic Cooperation of the two countries will be the main program of Arnous in Tehran, and he will also have meetings with the president, the speaker of the parliament and the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council....For implementation of the agreements made during the president’s visit to Syria, the items agreed upon during that trip, which were finalized after holding the meetings of the joint commissions of the two countries, will also be signed in the form of joint cooperation documents during this trip.” 

Other cooperation areas including customs, banking, joint trade zones, tourism, energy, and electricity were also discussed by the Syrian delegation with the Iranian officials. 

As part of its pivot-to-the-East approach that focuses on expansion of trade with neighbors and regional states, the administration of President Sayyed Ibrahim Raisi has prioritized boosting cooperation with Syria. So far, many visits have been paid by the two officials of the two countries to facilitate business between the two sides. 

Execution of bilateral agreements 

As remarks by Iranian and Syrian officials show, economy is the top matter in the Syrian PM’s visit to Tehran and that important steps have been taken to implement the agreements. Arnous’s visit is a sequel to bilateral meetings for implementing the inked documents as soon as possible. 

In President Raisi’s visit to Syria in May, 14 cooperation documents were signed in commercial cooperation, oil and energy, technical-engineering, housing, rail and air transportation, free zones and the private sector, IT and technology, rescue operations, and religious tourism were signed and in the last six months, many meetings have been held between the officials of the two countries to follow the agreements and advance the cooperation. 

The key part of these documents was rail transportation according to which the two sides agreed to link Iran’s rail network to the Mediterranean through Iraq and Syria. Once this plan is executed, Iranian transportation from Iraq to Syria and Lebanon and then Europe will take place in the fastest possible time. This railway is of great importance to Syria, too, and can meet part of its needs from Iran and Iraq as it is under suffocating Western sanctions. 

Once Tehran-Mediterranean railway is constructed, the trade between Iran and its allies will see a progress as the time is shorter and costs are lower than maritime and air transportation. Many of Syria’s infrastructures have been severely damaged during the crisis, and thus large-scale investment is needed to repair and restart the railway and road networks, and Iran can make a great contribution to the development of transit cooperation by participating in this sector. 

As it backed Damascus and its government in its support to foreign-backed terrorism, Tehran now supports new Syria and assists the country in rebuilding its economic infrastructures. 

With Syria starting reconstruction period and in need housing units, airports, power plants, water mains, roads, and dams, Iran has to get involved faster as Syrian officials specially welcome Iran in their country. 

The trade between Iran and Syria barely reaches $300 million, and official statistics indicate that Iran’s non-oil exports to Damascus reached 147 thousand tons worth $244 million in last year, growing 10.6 percent by weight and 11.4 percent by value compared to the year before. At present, the bilateral trade is not at the level of their strategic relations, but with the investments made by both sides, it will reach the targeted levels in the near future. 

Opening Iranian bank in Syria 

Certainly, one of the necessary ground to bolster bilateral trade between the two countries is connection of banking network. Tehran and Damascus have taken measures to facilitate trade in recent months. In this regard, Syrian Al-Watan newspaper reported establishment of an Iranian bank in Syria has been completed and it will start its work in the next few days, and the tariff of more than 88 goods has been set. 

Customs tariffs have always acted as an inhibiting element in commercial cooperation between countries, and since the amount of tariffs between Iran and Syria is going to be zero, Iranian companies and private sector will be incentivized, and with the entry of these companies into the Syrian market, trade between the two countries will grow witness prosperity. 

To facilitate trade, Syrian central bank agreed to trade with Iran with national currencies in financial transactions and e-payment systems for easier business and tourism. This means that dollar and euro will be ditched from bilateral trade, a move substantially helping neutralize the American sanctions. 

Energy is one of the important sectors in the cooperation between the two countries. In plans to invest in Syrian energy infrastructures that were widely damaged during a decade of anti-terror war. 

When it comes to oil and gas refinery equipment and technology, Iran is one of the leading countries in the region. Iran will provide its technology to propel Syrian energy production. Iranian technology companies have several times attended Syria energy fairs and voiced readiness for entry into Syrian gas and oil sectors. According to Syria officials, about $100 billion in funding is needed to develop the energy infrastructures in the country. Iran can provide part of the funding and reactivate Syrian energy sector as soon as possible. 

IT is another area officials of the two countries are also focusing on. The agreements reached will pave the way for entry of Iranian knowledge enterprises in the Syrian IT market. Leveraging its advanced IT capabilities, Iran can offer a wide range of services to Syria. Given the cost-effectiveness of Iranian companies compared to their foreign rivals, Damascus stands to benefit from Iran’s expertise in this field. 

Tags :

Iran Syria Economy Strategic Agreement Reconstruction

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