Raisi’s visit to Damascus strengthens the alliance between Iran and Syria

Syria leaves behind a decade of isolation, and Damascus once again receives important international visits. president of iran, Ibrahim Raisi He began a two-day official visit, symbolizing the Islamic Republic’s “strategic victory”, in the words of a senior adviser, Mohammad Jamshidi, to the official IRNA news agency. Along with Russia, Iran has been one of Bashar al-Assad’s main military allies since war broke out in 2011, and with that support, the president has been able to stay in power after a conflict that left more than 300,000 dead Half of the population is displaced or refugees in other countries, according to United Nations estimates.

Raisi and Assad met to sign a strategic plan for long-term cooperation affecting much-needed fields in Syria such as electricity and oil. The Syrian president expressed his gratitude and stressed that “our government and our nation will never forget our Iranian brothers.” Raisi praised his host’s resistance and “victory in the fight against terrorism” despite Western threats and sanctions. This is the first visit of an Iranian president in 13 years, then very conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who met the lion.

The policy of maximum pressure imposed by Donald Trump on Tehran after the collapse of the nuclear agreement and the return of sanctions by the United States did not achieve its goal. This visit to Damascus is also a direct message to Israel, the neighboring country that has carried out hundreds of attacks in recent years against targets linked to Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia deployed in Syrian territory. These are operations neither confirmed nor officially denied by the Israelis. The Arab country has become a new theater of operations for some Iranians who have found another base on the borders of the Jewish state, which raises the level of threat with Lebanon and Gaza.

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In addition to political meetings, Raisi has a religious agenda that includes visits to shrines Mrs. Zainab and Mrs. Ruqayyah, Both holy places in Shiite Islam, the majority denomination in Iran. Thousands of Iranian pilgrims travel to these holy places every year, pilgrimages that did not stop even during the bloodiest years of the Syrian conflict. In 2017, at least 40 believers, Shiites who arrived from Iraq, were killed in an attack on the buses in which they went to these holy places.

Normalization with Assad

The Middle East is witnessing days of great changes since Iran and Saudi Arabia announced the restoration of diplomatic relations that had been severed since 2016. This movement has multiple effects on different levels, one of which affects Syria, a country far from Iraq. The League of Arab States in 2011 and that it can be accepted again at the nineteenth summit to be held in Riyadh. European and American opposition to normalizing relations with Assad has no leverage in a region that is increasingly looking to Russia and China.

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