Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will arrive in Damascus on Wednesday on an official visit, the first by an Iranian official in this position, to the allied country, whose government Tehran has provided great support on several levels since the outbreak of the conflict in 2011.
Near the Iranian embassy in Mazzeh area in central Damascus, preparations for the visit have been visible for days, as huge iron and cement barriers that had erected around the embassy since the first years of the conflict removed.
Iranian and Syrian media reported that the visit would last for two days, and Raisi accompanied by a high-ranking political and economic ministerial delegation.
According to the official Syrian News Agency (SANA) reported that Raisi will meet his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al Assad, and hold talks with him on bilateral relations and joint political and economic issues, in addition to positive developments in the region.
In Tehran, government spokesperson Ali Bahadri Jahromi said on Tuesday that the visit, which comes at the invitation of Assad, is of strategic importance for the two countries and that its goal is economic.
Raisi’s visit comes in the midst of a rapprochement between Riyadh and Tehran, which announced in March the resumption of their relations after a long rupture over the Syrian conflict, while an Arab opening, especially Saudi, towards Damascus, which has been boycotted by several Arab countries since 2011.
The visit is the first for an Iranian president in more than 12 years, despite the great economic, political and military support provided by Tehran to Damascus, which helped change the course of the conflict in favor of the government forces.
The fronts in Syria have relatively calmed down since 2019, although the war has not actually ended.
Syrian Government forces currently control most of the areas they lost at the beginning of the conflict.
Attracting funds for the reconstruction phase has become a priority for Damascus, after the war destroyed infrastructure, factories, and production.
Tehran sent military advisors to support the Syrian army in its battles, while groups of other nationalities loyal to Iran, led by the Lebanese Hezbollah, are fighting alongside government forces.
Groups loyal to Tehran have often been targeted by Israeli strikes for years, while Israel, Tehran’s sworn enemy, and has repeatedly said that it will not allow Iran to take root near it.
According to resources from Damascus, the visit will include signing of a large number of agreements and memorandums of understanding that include various aspects of cooperation, especially in the fields of energy and electricity.
On the sidelines, negotiations will take place on a new Iranian credit line for Syria, to invest in the dilapidated electricity sector.
Electricity rationing hours in Syria exceed twenty hours per day.
Since the first year of the conflict, Tehran has opened a line of credit to secure Syria’s oil needs in particular.
The two countries signed bilateral agreements in several fields during the past years, one of which included the inauguration in early 2019 of two important ports in northern Tartous and in part of the port of Latakia.
Assad visited Tehran twice publicly over the past years, the first in February 2019 and the second in May 2022, during which he met Raisi and Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic Ali Khamenei.
Syria, due to the suppression of protests against the authority at the beginning of the conflict, and Iran, due to its nuclear program, are subject to harsh international sanctions that make all financial transactions and bank transfers almost impossible for their governments.
In addition to the Saudi-Iranian agreement, the visit comes as a result of Russian mediation to reform relations between Damascus and Ankara, which in turn supported the Syrian opposition during the years of the conflict, and days after a meeting hosted by Moscow in the presence of Iran and brought together Syrian and Turkish officials.