Syrian and Iranian officials meet in Tehran, December 2021.
“By [our] resistance, the aggressor superpowers can be humiliated.”
The relationship between Iran and Syria runs deep. Syria was the only Arab state to support Iran during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War. There is also sectarian solidarity between Syria’s ruling Assad family and Shi’ite Iran. Syria’s minority Alawi sect, to which the Assads belong, is an offshoot of Shi’ism. The excerpted article from Iran’s newspaper of record Ettelaat, suggests that Iranian officials, if not their Syrian counterparts as well, expect to enhance their relationship in coming years. The article quotes Ali Akbar Velayati, Iran’s foreign minister between 1981 and 1997, who has since served as the principle foreign policy advisor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei with regard to his meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad. Velayati is perhaps Iran’s second-most important foreign relations figure after Khamenei himself, likely wielding greater influence than current Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.
Velayati highlighted joint Iran-Hezbollah-Russia assistance to Syria, and condemned the United States and other countries that have supported Syrian rebels. The Velayati meeting was just one of many that Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad had in Tehran. He also met with Iranian Transport and Urban Development Minister Rostam Qassemi. Qassemi complained that the promise of fruitful bilateral economic cooperation was still unfulfilled and called on the Syrians to implement previous memorandums of understanding. Both Velayati and Qassemi also said that both countries need to do more to expand private sector cooperation. Mekdad, for his part, promised that Syria would welcome Iranian assistance in Syria’s reconstruction. Given the dominance of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-affiliated companies in Iran’s construction industries, any Iranian involvement in Syria’s reconstruction would likely further Tehran’s influence rather than reduce it. This will complicate debates in the West with regard to reconstruction as many countries will be hesitant or unable to contribute to international efforts to help Syria recover if such funds go to sanctioned entities.
“Takid bar Tawse’ah ravabet-e rahbardi Iran va Suriyeh dar Didr Velayati ba Faisal Mekdad (Faisal Mekdad Meeting with Velayati Emphasized Development of Strategic Relations between Iran and Syria),” 8 December 2021. https://www.ettelaat.com/?p=595024
The Advisor to the Supreme Leader on International Affairs [Ali Akbar Velayati] met with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad to discuss bilateral relations and international and regional issues. In addition to Ali Akbar Velayati, [Syrian] Deputy Foreign Minister Bashir Jaafari and others from his country attended the meeting which emphasized the strategic relation between the two countries. Velayati stressed the need for a special focus in order to promote and expand Iran-Syria ties, and said, “The path of resistance and confrontation with the enemies in Syria continues. The unity of the member states of the Resistance Front has led in recent years [to success] in this very sensitive region that has been coveted by the United States and Britain in the past, and shows it is possible to take effective, successful, and unprecedented measures against the continued domination of foreigners. He added, “The useful and fortuitous results of the formation of the resistance have given hope to the Islamic world that by resistance, the aggressor superpowers can be humiliated.
Velayati reminded, “What the Syrian president [Bashar al-Assad] has done with the support of Iran, Russia, Lebanese Hezbollah and most importantly the brave Syrian nation in recent years against the cowardly invasion of Syria by some 80 countries centered upon the United States, the Zionists and some reactionary countries in the region, is unique. Undoubtedly, the Resistance Front will achieve the final victory, God willing.
Image: Syrian and Iranian officials meet in Tehran, December 2021.
Source: Fars News Agency