Officials from Syria and Iran have signed a $1 billion credit facility agreement that will allow Syrian importers to purchase Iranian supplies without the need for a direct cash transfer, reported the Financial Times on Wednesday, giving a much-needed boost to Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which remains beleaguered by economic and social unrest.
The deal was part of a broader package of assistance agreed between the two countries, said the report, after Wael al-Halqi, Syria’s prime minister, had visited Tehran on Wednesday to sign seven other contracts on energy transmission and electrical equipment.
The Export Development Bank of Iran as such will provide the Commercial Bank of Syria with a $1 billion import credit line, allowing Syria to source for consumer supplies from Iran at a time when it is hard for them to do so from many other countries.
“It can provide basic goods that Syria has great difficulty procuring elsewhere,” told David Butter, a Middle East financial specialist at Chatham House in London, to FT.
The Commercial Bank of Syria and Export Development Bank of Iran are both state-owned and are both under western financial sanctions, noted FT. Analysts say that the credit facility agreement will provide some relief to Assad, especially to continue funding for soldiers’ and civil servants’ salaries.
Meanwhile, in the other contracts signed, Iran is also set to fund the construction of a power plant on Syria’s coast, with a total capacity of 650 megawatts.
“Our duty is to offer all forms of support to enhance Syria’s steadfastness and help it overcome the current crisis and restore its security and stability,” said Ali Larjani, the speaker of Iran’s parliament, as cited by The Daily Star, after meeting with the Syrian Prime Minister on Wednesday.
On his part, Halqi thanked “Iran for its efforts to support the Syrian people in their development process and against terrorism,” while he praised his country’s armed forces’ for their “achievements in the face of terrorism and terrorist groups.”