Iran Daily: Syria’s Assad to Tehran — Give Us Money

Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad with Iranian minister Abbas Akhoundi, Damascus, May 18, 2018

Syria’s leader Bashar al-Assad has appealed to Iran for economic assistance, in a meeting with a visiting Iranian minister on Friday.

Assad framed the request to Road and Urban Development Minister Abbas Akhoundi as “the development of economic cooperation with Iran and all the countries that insist on defending their sovereignty and independence” — “one of the most important ways to confront Western plots”.

Syria’s GDP has fallen about 80% during the seven-year conflict. The UN estimates that more than $250 billion is needed for reconstruction. Western countries are unlikely to provide assistance directly to the regime, and Russia — Assad’s other key backer — faces its own economic constraints.

Iran has provided tens of billions of dollars in economic and military intervention to prop up the regime since 2011; however, it faces its own crisis with expanding US sanctions that threaten a fragile recovery after the July 2015 nuclear deal.

Assad implicitly referred to that situation when he told Akhoundi, “Western powers are resorting to sanctions and coercive economic measures as a means to impose restrictions on nations and obliging them to bow to their hegemonic policies.”

Iranian State media said the Iranian minister “affirmed the Islamic Republic’s continuous support for Syria in various fields and expressed Tehran’s readiness to play an active role in the reconstruction process of the war-ravaged country”.

The discussion with Akhoundi followed Assad’s sudden trip to southern Russia to see President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.

See Syria Daily, May 18: Assad in Russia for Talks…About Partition?

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

19 COMMENTS

  1. Iran has provided tens of billions of dollars in economic and military intervention to prop up the regime since 2011;

    Iran has officially provided $4-5bn in lines of credit to Syria. The amount of additional military aid is probably a less than that, about $3bn. Much of the assistance provided is in the form of military advice, training and technical cooperation. Iran doesn not supply much in the way of arms, but it does pay the Shia militiamen based there.

    • You miss the point that “military advice, training, and technical cooperation” also carries a substantial cost — thus the “tens of billions”…

      • Where’s the source of your information that Iranian aid has run into the “tens of billions”? Military advice costs absolutely nothing. The wages and equipping of up to 80,000 Shia militiamen, however, do. Iran has not had to supply lots of weapons because the Syrian army has plenty of its own and has captured vast quantiies from the rebels (some of it supplied by the US and its allies).

        • “UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura estimates that Iran spends $6 billion (€5.3 billion) a year to sustain the Syrian regime. This figure apparently excludes the costs of deployment in Syria of Iranian Revolutionary Guards advisers and specialists and of Hizbullah and Iraqi Shia militia fighters taking part in operations against insurgent and jihadi forces.

          Others argue the sum is much higher, including former US Institute of Peace official Steven Heydemann, who claimed the annual sum to be $15-20 billion.”

          https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/middle-east/iranian-support-of-assad-regime-in-syria-amounts-to-billions-1.2246378

          P.S. — Your line about Iranian weapons support is very, very wrong.

          • Thats a lot of money that could have gone back into their economy. Too bad it was spent on murder and mischief rather than helping their own people.

            • Too bad it was spent on murder and mischief rather than helping their own people.

              Are you for real? Do you have any idea how many schools , roads, bridges and hospitals could have been built with that increase to the defense budget in the US alone? They could have paid for free College for all students for a decade alone.

          • Any source claiming that Iran spends its entire defense budget in Syria is simply not grounded in reality. The FT estimates Iran has spent since 2012 $16bn on deployments in Syria, Iraq and Yemen combined. That works out at $3-4 billion a year: https://www.ft.com/content/f5129c30-0d7f-11e8-8eb7-42f857ea9f09

            Another report in the FT by Najmeh Bozorgmehr, which i cannot find again, quoted Iranian businessmen as stating that Iran has spent in total $6-10 bn on aid to Syria, both economic and miliitary, since 2012.

            As for Iranian weapons, they are simply not seen on the battlefield in the Syrian conflict. Of course many Iranian-made weapons are copies of Russian or Chinese originals. The Syrian army has made great use of anti-tank missiles captured from rebels that were supplied by the CIA and the Israelis.

            • That’s not a claim that Iran is “spending its entire defense budget”. It’s multiple sources saying Iran is drawing from various parts of its national budget to finance the Syria effort.

              And you’re confusing the reports of $6 billion per year with $6 billion in total. The FT report you cite appears to refer only to economic lines of credit and not direct and indirect military expenditure.

              Iranian weapons have been seen on numerous occasions in the Syrian conflict.

    • Straw man alert.

      I take it you’re opposed to mathematics, the sciences, economics, literature, history, medicine, engineering, legal studies too.

      Student debt in the US sits at 1.5 trillion, which means 70% of graduates spend the next decade or more just paying off Jose loans.

      I know how regime changers have contempt for basic education (as they demonstrate by their own ignorance), but free education tends to lead to a better educated and more prosperous society.

  2. Just to be clear, the FT figure of $4.6bn in credit provided to Syria by Iran does not refer to any annual amount. ““Iranian state-owned banks set up credit lines for the Syrian government of $3.6 billion in 2013 and $1 billion in 2015 to let the regime buy oil and other goods from Iran.” https://www.lawfareblog.com/fruits-irans-victory-syria

    Iran is currently spending about 1bn in Syria on keeping Shia militias and its own fighters there.

    • Which doesn’t include military direct and indirect spending.

      Last time I point out this fundamental error/deliberate omission to you.

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