Syria and Iran sign ‘strategic’ economic agreement

Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis (R) and Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri (C) attend a signing of an agreement event in the capital Damascus on January 28, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 29 January 2019

Syria and Iran sign ‘strategic’ economic agreement

  • Iran will stand “alongside Syria during the next phase that will be marked by reconstruction,” Jahangiri promised

DAMASCUS: Syria and Iran signed 11 agreements and memoranda of understanding late Monday, including a “long-term strategic economic cooperation” deal aimed at strengthening cooperation between Damascus and one of its key allies in the civil war that has torn the country apart.
The agreements covered a range of fields including economy, culture, education, infrastructure, investment and housing, the official Sana news agency reported.
They were signed during a visit to Damascus by Iran’s First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri.
Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis said it was “a message to the world on the reality of Syrian-Iranian cooperation,” citing “legal and administrative facilities” to benefit Iranian companies wishing to invest in Syria and contribute “effectively to reconstruction.”
The agreements included two memos of understanding between the railway authorities of the two countries as well as between their respective investment promotion authorities.
In relation to infrastructure, there was also rehabilitation of the ports of Tartus and Latakia as well as construction of a 540 megawatt energy plant, according to Khamis.
In addition there were “dozens of projects in the oil sector and agriculture,” he added.
The civil war has taken an enormous toll on the Syrian economy and infrastructure, with the cost of war-related destruction estimated by the UN at about $400 billion.
Iran will stand “alongside Syria during the next phase that will be marked by reconstruction,” Jahangiri promised.
Iran and Syria had already signed a military cooperation agreement in August while Tehran has supported Damascus economically during the conflict through oil deliveries and several lines of credit.
The new agreements come against the backdrop of fresh US sanctions against Iran, while Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime and several Syrian businesspeople and companies are already on US and European blacklists.
They also come as Israel has repeatedly pledged to keep arch-foe Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria, where the war has already claimed more than 360,000 lives and displaced several million people.

Iran commemorates war with parade of tanks, missiles

Updated 48 min 8 sec ago

Iran commemorates war with parade of tanks, missiles

  • Saudi Arabia and the US have accused Iran of a Sept. 14 drone and missile attack on oil facilities

JEDDAH: As Saudi Arabia prepared to celebrate its National Day with entertainment events, firework displays and cultural events, Iran staged a military parade in Tehran on Sunday with tanks, missiles and armored vehicles.

President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian military leaders saluted as ranks of soldiers marched past them in tight unison, followed by an array of military hardware.

Among the weapons on display in the parade, held to mark the anniversary of the start of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, was an upgraded warhead for the Khorramshahr ballistic missile, said to have a range of 2,000km, and the Kaman 12 drone with a range of 1,000km. Speedboats and warships were shown in video footage on state TV.

Saudi Arabia and the US have accused Iran of a Sept. 14 drone and missile attack on oil facilities in the east of the Kingdom. After the attack the Pentagon ordered US troops to reinforce Saudi air and missile defenses.

In a speech at Monday’s parade, Rouhani denounced the US presence. “Foreign forces can cause problems and insecurity for our people and for our region,” he said.

“If they’re sincere, then they should not make our region the site of an arms race.

“Their presence has always brought pain and misery ... the farther they keep themselves from our region and our nations, the more security there will be.”

The US aims to avoid war with Iran and the additional troops are for “deterrence and defense,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday.

“If that deterrence should continue to fail, I am also confident that President Trump would continue to take the actions that are necessary,” he said.