After years of dormancy, trade between Syria and Iran is stirring to life. Since May, the countries have made progress on deals to remove joint customs tariffs, revive Iran’s automotive plants in Syria, create a joint bank, and even build an insurance company.
It wasn’t long ago that talk of improved economic ties between Tehran and Damascus was just that – talk. Now, however, cooperation has a new deadline: the end of Iranian patience.
Iran has been a steadfast supporter of President Bashar al-Assad since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011, and Tehran has provided Damascus with financial aid, militias, and weapons throughout the 12-year-long conflict. Confidential documents, allegedly leaked by Iran’s Presidential Institution, reveal the extent of this assistance: an estimated US$50 billion in military and non-military backing.
But none of this support was free. On the contrary, Iran viewed it as an investment. Aware that Syria’s financial woes would make cash repayment unlikely, Iran has sought to recover its debts through project-based settlements.
Yet few of these projects have materialized. Long-drawn-out negotiations kept many projects in political purgatory. Making matters worse, the Syrian government granted the lion’s share of new business opportunities to Russia, turning its back on lenders from Tehran.
Source » asiatimes