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Syria and Iran Sign 15 Cooperation Agreements during Iran’s Raisi Visit

In the first visit by an Iranian president to Syria in thirteen years, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad welcomed his Iranian counterpart, Ibrahim Raisi, along with a high-level political and economic delegation.

President Raisi's visit to the Syrian capital, Damascus, began on Wednesday, May 3rd, and lasted only two days. He engaged in various multidimensional meetings and activities on different topics during this time.

In this context, former Iranian diplomat Hadi Afghahi clarified to Al-Mayadeen Net that the accompanying delegation of President Raisi is not purely a political delegation but includes ministers from "various specialties and fields."

He added that among these specialties are "trade, banking and financial issues, as well as technical and artistic issues," especially with the start of discussions about the reconstruction phase in Syria.

Indeed, during the visit, 15 cooperation documents were signed between Syria and Iran, including on oil, agriculture, aviation, and railways. The signing ceremony occurred in the presence of the two presidents during a joint meeting of the high-level delegations of both countries, according to Fars News Agency.

They emphasized the importance of the "Comprehensive and Long-Term Strategic Cooperation Program between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Syrian Arab Republic" in securing the interests of both countries and other nations in the region.

In an official statement after the signing of these agreements, the Syrian president welcomed the cooperation with Iran and stressed that these agreements would give a significant boost to the bilateral relations between Iran and Syria by "developing mechanisms to enhance the level of trade and investment exchange between the two countries."

He also emphasized the importance of the Saudi-Iranian agreement and the recent development in their relations, considering that "the countries and nations of the region either win together or lose together."

Moreover, al-Assad mentioned that these agreements contribute to alleviating the sanctions imposed on Syria, considering that the "global economic center" has shifted gradually towards the East, which will free international economies from Western dominance and diminish the effects of the blockade, according to his expression.

On his part, Raisi affirmed that Iran, which has stood alongside Syria in the past, will continue to do so in the future. He emphasized Iran's determination to continue standing with the Syrian people and supporting the axis of resistance, he said during an interview with the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).

Regarding the relationship with Syria, he indicated that it has strengthened and grown steadily. He also mentioned that the Axis of Evil, led by the Zionist entity and the United States, has woven various conspiracies against Syria, aiming to destabilize its security by supporting terrorist and extremist groups. They sought to divide Syria and commit massacres within its borders, according to Raisi.

Furthermore, the Iranian president held the United States responsible for the living difficulties faced by the Syrian people as they occupied certain areas in Syria, driven by greed for its resources and plundering its wealth. He explained that the US, Israel, and some Western countries aimed to weaken Syria economically through economic siege after their military attempts to weaken Syria had failed. However, he underlined that the US and its allies will also fail in their economic pressure campaign.

He also highlighted Iran's role in mediating between Syria and Turkey, emphasizing his country's readiness to play this role by bridging the gap between the two parties through dialogue and negotiations.

In this regard, President Raisi pointed out that during the Astana meeting, held in Tehran with the participation of the Russian and Turkish presidents, the Iranian side emphasized the necessity of the return of all Syrian territories to the Syrian state. This is because the Syrian government asserting its sovereignty over its entire territory will contribute to securing the border areas between Turkey and Syria. The Iranian side's vision is that the path to ensuring security is not for the Turks to control certain Syrian territories but rather the opposite.

In addition to the meeting with Syrian officials, Raisi also met with leaders of Palestinian resistance factions at the Syrian Presidential Palace in Damascus, In the presence of Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian.

According to Al Mayadeen's report, the Iranian President held separate meetings with leaders of Palestinian resistance factions and Palestinian intellectuals in Syria, during which Iran reaffirmed its commitment to placing the Palestinian cause at the top of its foreign policy priorities. Iran believes that all equations in the Islamic world are interconnected with this issue.

Also, he reiterated that what the experiences have proven is that "resistance is the only path to confront the Zionist entity." He stressed the necessity of "unity and solidarity among the forces of resistance in the region and the Islamic world to expedite the defeat of the occupation entity, liberate Jerusalem, and establish the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination."

President Raisi also met and discussed with a group of Sunni scholars in Damascus. During the meeting, some friendly words were exchanged, fostering a sense of camaraderie and shared values, as stated by The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

It is important to note that this type of activity comes in the context of Iran's call, which has a Shi'a majority population and a Shi'a identity in authority, for Islamic unity, especially between Sunnis and Shi'as. This old call began with the victory of the Iranian Islamic Revolution in 1979 by Iranian leaders and religious scholars.

It aims to foster cooperation among Islamic countries and nations at all levels, transcending different Islamic sects. It focuses on points of convergence, particularly on political and intellectual issues that have consensus, especially the Palestinian cause.

"We use Iranian Keffiyeh, while you use Palestinian and Syrian Keffiyeh!" one Sunni scholar told Raisi, pointing to the Palestinian keffiyeh over his shoulders.

On the other hand, the Syrian opposition considered the visit of the Iranian president to Syria and the increased cooperation between the two countries as a further consolidation of Iran's influence over Syria and its interference in Syrian internal affairs.

Additionally, they viewed Raisi's visit to historical and Islamic sacred sites as indicative of Iran's agenda to alter Syria's identity from Sunni to Shia. Opposition media shared a video depicting a popular reception for Raisi with chants of "Ya Ali," which carries Shia connotations.

In the same context, the United States expressed concern over Raisi's visit to Syria, stating that deepening relations between the two countries should cause concern for the international community.

State Department Deputy Spokesman Vedant Patel claimed, “That the Iranian regime and the Assad regime are continuing to deepen their ties should be of great concern to not just our allies, partners and countries in the region but also the world broadly,”

"These are two regimes that have continued to partake in malign destabilizing activities, not just in their immediate countries, but also in the region broadly," he continued.

As a reaction, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kana'ani scorned the US government's concern over Raisi's visit to Syria and said that his country "is not surprised by the reaction of a country that has been routed in West Asia by Tehran and resistance groups."

“The US has expressed concerns about the Iranian president’s visit to Syria and its results and described them as malign! Of course, the anger of that evil regime is natural as it has been defeated in Syria and the entire region by Iran and the Axis of Resistance, and it must end its aggressive presence in Syria,” he added.

This visit, seen by its supporters, including Bashar al-Assad and Iran, comes as a "strategic victory" following important regional reconciliations, notably the Saudi-Iranian rapprochement under Chinese sponsorship and the restoration of relations between Syria (under Bashar al-Assad's government) and several Arab countries. Additionally, there have been talks about Syria's return to the Arab League after its membership was suspended for over a decade.


Edited By: Ashelyn Wagner

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Tags: #MiddleEast #IranSyriaRelations #IranianInfluence


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