Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with Iran’s Supreme Leader (File)

Needing hundreds of billions of dollars for reconstruction of Syria, the Assad regime has turned to Iran — which has its own economic problems amid US sanctions — for help.

Syrian State media highlighted Monday’s meeting in Tehran with Iranian Economy Minister Farhad Dejpasand about “the necessity of enhancing Iranian-Syrian economic relations and upgrading them to the level of the distinguished political relations”.

The reports were careful about the presentation of reconstruction, where the Assad regime faces more than $400 billion in damage in the 92-month conflict. They framed Dejpasand’s comments as “deepening economic relations” in banking and export of Iranian good to “play a key role in the reconstruction”.

State news agency SANA also featured the Minister’s comment on joint investment to the Syrian-Iranian Parliamentary Friendship Committee: “An agreement was signed in that domain and we should implement it.”

The Iranian Minister hoped that the agreement which was forged during Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri’s visit to Syria will be signed soon.

Iran has been essential in propping up the Assad regime, providing billions of dollars in support through provision of oil and lines of credits. However, the Islamic Republic’s economy has serious problems, amid long-term mismanagement and American pressure, with production, investment, trade, employment, the environment, and a currency which has fallen 70% this year.

Last week the Trump Administration added to Tehran’s burdens with comprehensive sanctions, including on the energy and financial sectors, reducing oil exports and hindering the ability of Iranian banks to move funds and carry out transactions

Iran Daily, November 11: Rouhani Insists US Sanctions Have No Effect on Economy

According to Syrian State media, the Assad regime’s Ambassador Adnan Mahmoud saw an opportunity in the sanctions: “The economic unilateral coercive measures imposed on Syria and Iran constitute an opportunity for enhancing capabilities and economic progress.”

Mahmoud said “a new stage of economic cooperation” between Syria and Iran will start soon, with an agreement for joint chambers of commerce.