Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Damascus International Airport – SANA
Executive summary: On May 3, the Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was welcomed by the Syrian Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade Mohammad Samer al-Khalil at the International Airport of Damascus upon his arrival for a two-day visit to Syria. The Iranian leader is expected to hold talks with President Asaad regarding bilateral relations, political and economic agreements.
This is the first visit of the Iranian President Raisi to Damascus since the outbreak of the war in Syria in 2011. The last Iranian head of state who visited Syria was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in September 2010.
President al Asaad will welcome his counterpart, Ebrahim Raisi together with his ministerial delegation during an official ceremony al-Shaab Palace. The Iranian delegation includes the ministers of foreign affairs, of communication, defence and petroleum.
The two allies will later start their meetings which include plans to discuss ways of enhancing political and economic cooperation, followed by signing a “number of agreements” during the visit, according to SANA report.
Quoting Iran’s ambassador to Syria, IRNA state agency says: “Raisi’s trip to Damascus next Wednesday is a very important trip due to the changes and developments that are taking place in the region”. He also added that the official visit “is also a very good event that other countries in the region can also take advantage of”.
Prior to his visit to Syria, President Raisi told pro-Iran broadcaster al-Mayadeen stressed that that visit will “consolidate and develop” ties with Syria and other allies, giving the example of Hezbollah which intervened in Syria on Assad’s behalf.
According to his statements, Iran and Syria are determined to improve their cooperation in the political, economic and security sphere and beneficial to the countries in the region as well.
Iranian government spokesperson said that “Both countries are ready for the highest level of cooperation” and emphasized the economic purpose of President Raisi visit to Syria, highlighting that the two leaders could also work on reconstruction and rehabilitation of the refugees.
The two-day trip takes place after Iran and Saudi Arabia reached a significant development in their relations through a Chinese-mediated deal which has sparked an uproar of diplomatic activity in the Middle East.
A week prior to the Iranian president’s visit, Mehrdad Bazrpash, who is also part of the ministerial delegation accompanying President Raisi in Syria, met Bashar al Assad in Damascus and delivered Iranian leader’ endorsement to work towards the expansion of economic relations between the two countries.
Since the war began, Assad has made two formal trips to Tehran, the most recent of which was in May 2022.
Bashar al Asaad who has been diplomatically isolated since the start of the civil war in Syria back in 2011 is currently re-engaging with regional government and hopes to reintegrate Syria into the Arab fold.
Iran, alongside with Russia has been a key supporter of the Syrian regime and has offered military and financial support to the government, helping Damascus in regaining control over the territory during the 12-year-war by backing fighters to fight on Assad’s side.
The meeting is expected to facilitate the full normalization of the relations between Syria and others regional actors, including the Gulf states and Arab countries which will accelerate reconstruction and cooperation.
As Iran was a participant in the four-way discussion between Damascus, Moscow, and Ankara, it is expected that the Syria – Türkiye relations will be addressed during President Raisi and President Bashar al-Assad meeting.
Iranian leader’s visit is considered to be “very important” and a “good event” for re-establishing diplomatic relations between Syria and Arab countries as well as for enhancing cooperation regarding security and bilateral relations.