Iran waiting for its piece of the Syrian pie

Syria's reconstruction will soon begin, and allies are in a position of strength.

iran rohani syria syrian
President of Iran Hassan Rouhani. ©

Seven years later, Syrian territory is in pieces. The economy too, and do-gooders are waiting for the end of the war. This tune is familiar. Back in 1990, Lebanon also was shattered. A large part of the country was to be rebuild starting by the foundations of the economy. As Lebanese economic system in 1990, 2018 Syrian economy is in bad shape and Damascus is seeking for help. But help is never for free. Remember the 1991 Treaty for Brotherhood, Cooperation and Coordination signed between Lebanon and Syria. It was not free at all.

Last Tuesday in Tehran, Syrian Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade Mohammad Samer Al-Khalil held some discussions with Iranian Minister of Industries, Mining and Trade Mohammad Shariatmadari about bilateral economic cooperation in many fields.

Syrian Minister claimed that this future cooperation will benefit both countries to enhance collaboration in economic, commercial and investment domains, in the public and private sectors. Everybody know what it really means. Iran will benefit of the situation as a reward after supporting Assad’s regime since the 2011 Deraa repression.

Since 2012, Syrian gross domestic product (GPD) mathematically declined due to the war. The main double-digit drop did concern mining, manufacturing and utilities, wholesale and retail trade. Between 2011 and 2014, Syria’s GPD contracted by 53.7%, mainly because of the vertiginous retail fall (-83.9%). The period 2015-2016 was still negative, but recession slowed down a bit (-9.9%). According to the American IHS Market experts, Syrian economy’s contraction continued at slower rate (-2.3%) in 2017. 2018 will probably be the first year of growth (or zero-growth at worst) since the regime regained control over its territory with the support of Iran, Russia and Hezbollah, thanks to the retail, transport and communication sectors that expand again. The next five years will certainly witness a double-digit growth and military partners of Syria will get their share.

In Tehran this week, ministers discussed of bilateral cooperation, free trade agreement, joint investments and free zones. Iran and Syria may set up joint banks and exchange the opening of accounts and dealing in local currencies. “Iran will be a main partner in the reconstruction process. The current stage is decisive for Syria and Iran, and we are on the threshold of the phase of rebuilding Syria and take advantage of the expertise of Iranian companies in this domain,” Mohammad Samer al-Khalil said. Iranian Minister considered the Syrian-Iranian relations as “strategic and deep-rooted” as the Iraqi-Iranian cooperation. “After achieving victory upon terrorism, the phase of reconstructing Syria will start,” Shariatmadari said.

Iran’s strategy aims to establish a joint free market among the three states by reviving the railroad connecting Syria, Iran and Iraq. Ultimate objective: getting access to the Mediterranean Sea and to Europe. It’s now within reach.