The Guardian: Iran is strengthening its influence Ibrahim Raisi makes the first visit by an Iranian president to Damascus since 2011

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The Guardian newspaper paid attention to the visit of Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi to Syria and his meeting with Syrian President Bashar al Assad, for the first time since the civil war in 2011.

Patrick Wintour, the Guardian’s diplomatic editor, wrote that Tehran seeks to enhance its economic and political influence over Damascus with the Gulf States moving to normalize relations with Assad.

Iran has invested a lot in the Assad regime and sent armed Iranian militias to fight alongside Assad, but with the approaching normalization of relations between Syria and the Gulf states, Iran wants to ensure that economic benefits reaped from its support.

Another goal of the visit is to try to build a stronger anti-Israel coalition in the region.

A major deputy chief of staff for political affairs, Mohammad Jamshidi, told the official IRNA news agency before leaving that the visit was a sign of “a strategic victory for the Islamic Republic of Iran in the region”.

The Arab Gulf countries, which opposed Assad and sent arms to the opposition, want to return Syria to the Arab League as part of a broader regional rapprochement, but the terms of any normalization are still in dispute.

Regarding the situation on the ground in Syria, Assad controls, with Russian and Iranian support, the majority of Syria, but a large area of ​​Idlib and the Kurdish lands in the north are still outside the control of the regime.

Another reason for convergence is the issue of refugees. Millions of them are in Jordan, Türkiye and Lebanon waiting to return home, and their presence is increasingly unpopular in some countries with limited public services.

However, there are those who oppose the return of Assad as well.

Qatar, with the support of the United States, is against normalization at the present time unless Assad makes political concessions, and my boss will ask him not to make those concessions.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also urged Egypt to think more before any normalization of relations with Syria.

In a phone call with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Blinken stressed that those who deal with the Assad regime must carefully balance how these efforts meet the needs of the Syrian people.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia would like to return Syria to the Arab League in the next two months. Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal al Miqdad visited Riyadh in April, the first visit of its kind since relations between the two countries severed in 2012.

As for the European position, the European Union will participate in the reconstruction of Syria, but in return, Assad must first agree to share power and declare his responsibility for the use of sarin gas against his people.

As well as the European Union’s request to hold presidential elections under the supervision of the United Nations, but this demand is not achievable.

Raisi is working to convince Damascus that Tehran is a ready alternative for reconstruction instead of the European Union, based on the so-called axis of resistance.

The focal point of the agreements likely to be signed will be the operation of a single reconstruction fund controlled by Assad.

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