Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which answers directly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stands to be the main beneficiary of economic agreements recently signed between Tehran and Damascus, Reuters reported Wednesday.
Syrian Prime Minister Emad Khamis signed five memorandums of understandings on a visit last week to Iran, including phosphate mining contracts and a license allowing the Islamic Republic to provide mobile phone service in Syria.
Syria also agreed to give Iran 5,000 hectares (nearly 12,500 acres) of land for farming purposes and another 1,000 hectares (nearly 2,500 acres) of land for mining.
Reuters noted that the IRGC’s control of “a powerful industrial empire in Iran,” including its domination of Iran’s telecommunications industry, means that it will reap significant economic rewards from the agreements.
“Telecoms are a very sensitive industry. It will allow Iran to closely monitor Syrian communications,” said Karim Sadjadpour, senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Middle East program.
In recent years, Iran extended a $4.5 billion credit line to Syria, helping its war-torn economy stay afloat.
The Syrian National Council, an opposition group, blasted the deals as “looting” of the Syrian people by the “Iranian extremist militias.”
“These agreements represent further a blatant violation of Syria’s sovereignty as they are meant to reward an occupation force in return for its involvement in shedding the Syrian people’s blood and attempting to break their will,” the council said in a statement on its website.
Sadjadpour appeared to confirm this assessment, noting that “Iran increasingly treats Syria as one of its own provinces.”
“They saved Assad from falling, and now seem to feel entitled to help themselves to the Syrian economy,” he added.
This behavior is consistent with Iran’s regional aspiration, as explained by Hanin Ghaddar in The Iranian Empire Is Almost Complete, which was published in the December 2016 issue of The Tower Magazine:
Today, Hezbollah, the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs), and Syrian army and pro-Assad factions constitute one force under the control of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). This is a pan-Shi’ite army founded, funded and trained by the IRGC in order to consolidate Iranian control over the region.
The PMUs are now being assimilated into the Iraqi army, and Lebanon’s government, including military and security institutions, is already in full coordination with Hezbollah. In Syria, Iran is the sole decision-maker in the area controlled by regime forces, which stretches from the Alawite coast up to Homs, the suburbs of Damascus, Qalamoun, and the Lebanese border. To complete its imperialist plan, Iran now only needs to link Tel Afar, which is under siege by the PMUs, to Syria via Sinjar. This should not be particularly difficult. By controlling the three capitals, fostering an army of almost 100,000 Arab Shi’ites under IRGC command, and maintaining a land bridge to consolidate its power, Iran will be firmly entrenched as a regional hegemon, controlling an territory that stretches from Tehran to Beirut via Baghdad.
[Photo: Mehr News ]