The Failed Iranian Economic Activity in Syria: a Failure due to the Vast Investment in the Corridor?

The Syrian territories under Assads’ regime were supposed to be a fertile and extensive breeding ground for Iranian economic activity. The devastated Syrian state is thirsty for foreign private company investments to inject money and create jobs. Moreover, the Western US-led sanctions imposed on the Assad regime are ostensibly intended to allow Iranian companies to operate in Syrian territory without multiple competitors, except the Russians and perhaps the Chinese. Of course, the extensive military presence of the radical Shiite axis led by Iran in Syria should be noted. This presence is supposed to “consume” economic activity while protecting Iranian civil-economic activity. However, most of Iran’s resources are directed toward a military entrenchment, from the strategic concept of creating a corridor from Iran to Lebanon.

It seems that when it comes to the Iranian economic presence in Syria, it is a relative failure. In an interview given to an Iranian website and quoted on the Syrian “Voice of the Capital” website, Hassan Shamshadi, secretary of the Iranian-Syrian Chamber of Commerce, criticizes Iranian economic activity in Syria.

According to Shamshadi, many Iranian companies have invested throughout Syria in recent years out of hope based on the abovementioned reasons. They also hoped for positive results due to the establishment of Raisi’s government, which declared its desire to cultivate and expand economic ties with the axis countries – primarily Syria.

Above: Hassan Shamshadi – Secretary of the Iranian-Syrian Chamber of Commerce

The declarations are contradictory to reality. According to Shamshadi, the Raisi government has not taken any serious steps to ease the terms of trade with Syria. In addition, Shamshadi claims that many Iranian companies suffer from ignorance and lack of knowledge regarding the Syrian market and that their main mistake is that they compare it to the Iraqi market, which is a much larger and developed market.

Data presented by Shamshadi revealed that 1,390 Iranian companies registered for operations in Syria, with the return of the Assad regime’s relative control over most of the country. However, only about 20 Iranian companies are operating relatively successfully in Syria today.

Above: An Illustration showing the main preoccupation of the Iranian economic presence in Syria. Its strategic role is in supplying the Assad regime’s immediate energy needs in light of the sanctions. It appears that the main arguments made by Shamshadi against the Iranian regime are the lack of sufficient credit facilities and safe transportation between the countries.

When reading between the lines, it is hard to ignore the implicit criticism that Iranian attention and efforts are directed primarily at the Iranian military presence in Syria, which supports the corridor from Iran to Lebanon.

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Tal Beeri

Tal Beeri

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