The president’s deputy says it’s also a failure of US policy in the region.
Tehran, Iran – Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has arrived in Syria and is expected to meet President Bashar al-Assad in what Tehran has described as a sign of its “strategic victory” in regional affairs.
Raisi landed in Damascus on Wednesday for a two-day trip and received an official welcome to kick off the first state visit by an Iranian president to Syria in 13 years.
He was accompanied by his ministers of Foreign Affairs, Roads and Urban Development, Petroleum and Economic Affairs and the chief of Iran’s central bank.
Raisi’s deputy for political affairs, Mohammad Jamshidi, told state news agency IRNA before leaving that the visit is a sign of “the strategic victory of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the region”.
Having supported al-Assad during the Syrian war, Tehran is now positioning itself to gain a stronger foothold in the country’s economic future, aiming to expand trade and secure an entry point for are state and private companies.
Jamshidi said the trip comes after more than a decade of unrest in the Middle East, including the war in Syria, the war in Yemen, the rise of ISIL (ISIS) and the spread of “terrorism”.
He also cited the United States’ policy of “maximum pressure” that began in 2018 after the US unilaterally abandoned a 2015 Iran-world power nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.
The same Arab nations that supported Iran’s isolation, Jamshidi said, are now repositioning themselves and preparing to welcome Syria back into the Arab fold after rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed, with Chinese mediation, to restore diplomatic ties.
He said this development is a failure of US policy in the region.
Iran and Syria are expected to sign several agreements during Raisi’s visit, some aimed at expanding economic cooperation.
Raisi arrived a day after Israel launched airstrikes at the international airport in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, killing a soldier and shutting down the airport.
Israel, which has pledged to fight the rise of Iranian influence in neighboring countries, has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria’s government-controlled areas in recent years, and has carried out many attacks in recent months.
In March, US and Iranian-backed forces in Syria exchanged fire in airstrikes that killed at least 20 people. Tehran continues to support al-Assad’s position that US troops should end their presence in the country, which Washington says has been taken to fight IS.