Iran revives plans for Syria as it negotiates lifting of US sanctions
Iran can build and rebuild hundreds of thousands of homes in Syria without any competition if it can only transfer money, Iran’s Deputy Minister of Roads and Urban Development said.
The ISNA news site quoted Mahmoud Mahmoudzadeh on Tuesday that “the issue of transferring money for the activities of Iranian companies for the reconstruction of Syria will soon be resolved.” He added that Iran can build at least 200,000 residential units, where it has no competition.
Mahmoudzadeh’s remarks indicate that the reconstruction will be paid for by Iran, which is in deep economic crisis due to US sanctions but hopes that an agreement on nuclear negotiations with the United States in Vienna will be reached soon and much of it these sanctions lifted, Tehran with indispensable foreign currency.
Iran accepted build 200,000 homes in Syria in February 2019, but he could not continue, most likely because of US sanctions which emptied his currency coffers. It is possible that the old plan will be relaunched with the anticipation of the lifting of sanctions and the release of funds frozen by other countries.
The issue of Iran’s involvement in Syria and the nearly $ 30 billion spent there, amid its own dire economic situation, has been a contentious issue among Iranians. In protests since 2017, angry Iranians have demanded an end to spending in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and to support Lebanese Hezbollah and other armed groups in the region.
Mahmoudzadeh boss Mohammad Eslami visited Syria last week and pledged to help Damascus in rebuilding the country.
Syria has few allies, with Russia and Iran being its only major backers. Russia appears to have engaged only in military protection of the government of Bashar al-Assad, which in 2016 was on the verge of collapse and was rescued by the Russian Air Force and tens of thousands of forces. land forces organized and deployed by Iran.
Iranian officials have hinted in the past that rebuilding Syria will cost hundreds of billions of dollars and after spending so much blood and treasure, Iran expects to have a big slice of the pie. But so far there is no money, and no one is about to give the Syrian government money or credit for reconstruction.
In November 2019, Syria and Iran signed a memorandum of understanding to also rebuild the country’s power grid. IRNA reported at the time that the agreement covered the construction of power plants, transmission lines and the possibility of connecting their power grids through Iraq.
Iran is currently experiencing major power cuts in its major cities due to its inadequate electricity generation and distribution infrastructure. Tehran has not made the necessary investments to keep its power industry on par with the ever increasing demand for electricity.