Iranian Deputy Minister Outlines Reconstruction Projects Funded By Tehran In Syria
By Radio Farda October 06, 2020
Iran's Deputy Minister of Industry, Mines, and Trade (MIMT) Hamid Zadboom called the reconstruction of countries such as Syria a "religious duty," adding that "Iranian building materials needed to renovate the war-torn country are underway."
Zadboom, who also chairs the Trade Promotion Organization of Iran, told the Islamic Republic Arabic-speaking TV, Al-Alam, on Monday, October 5, that Tehran currently has only one foreign free trade agreement, which is with Damascus.
Reducing and eliminating tariffs and other common trade restrictions is a crucial feature of all free trade agreements.
Zadboom stated that Iran's most important exports in terms of value are petrochemicals and petroleum products, steel industries, colored and non-colored metals, and building materials, "especially materials used in reconstructing the countries like Lebanon and Syria."
According to Zadboom, Iranian technical engineering service companies are currently active in Iraq and Syria, and that "Iran is sending the building materials needed for the reconstruction."
Tehran and Damascus signed a memorandum of understanding in 2018, according to which Iran will build 200,000 houses in Syria.
In a series of controversial comments last May, a member of the 10th Majlis parliament, Heshmatullah Falahatpisheh, disclosed that Iran had spent about $30 billion in Syria over the past decade, calling for Tehran to take the money back from Damascus.
Falahatpisheh did not elaborate, however, on how Iran planned to reclaim the money spent in Syria.
Over the past few years, in every anti-Islamic establishment demonstration across Iran, one of the protesters' main demands has consistently been recovering Iranian assets spent in foreign lands, including Syria.
Furthermore, the dominant anti-regime slogan had been, "No to Gaza, no to Lebanon; I'll sacrifice my life for Iran."
Two years ago, the U.S. State Department's Iran Task Force released a report announcing that Iran had spent $16 billion since 2012 to support Bashar al-Assad and its proxy groups in Yemen and Iraq.
Syria's eight-year civil war had severely damaged its infrastructure and housing facilities, killing hundreds of thousands, and Iran and Russia were significant supporters of Bashar al-Assad in the government's fight against the Damascus opposition.
Former Chief Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Yahya Rahim Safavi, who also serves as a current senior military aide to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, said previously that Syria's reconstruction "would take several years and require at least $300 billion to $400 billion."
"The Islamic Republic must recoup the costs it has incurred in Syria, and the Syrians are ready to repay their debts from Syria's oil, gas and phosphate mines," Safavi added.
Furthermore, in an interview on state television last September, the Deputy Chief Commander of the IRGC, Ali Fadavi, disclosed that Iran had spent nearly 20 billion pushing its controversial foreign policy objectives in the region.
Speaking to state TV channel Ofogh, Fadavi maintained that Iran had spent $19.6 billion on its 1980-1988 war with Iraq. However, he argued, the cost for Iran's regional policies -- such as supporting proxy armies and military aid in countries like Syria, Iraq, and Yemen -- was less than that.
He added he could not remember the precise amount, adding that those billions were insignificant compared to what Iran had gained in the region.
Currently, it's not possible to verify such figures due to most IRGC expenditures' secrecy, as Iran has never revealed the cost of its support for regional proxies aimed at expanding its influence in the region and countering its rival, Saudi Arabia.
Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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