Iranian president plans Syria visit to ‘celebrate victory’ – officials
Ebrahim Raisi will become the first Iranian president to visit Syria in over a decade when he travels to Damascus this week for talks that Tehran’s ambassador to Damascus has touted as a “turning point” in regional relations.
The two-day trip to Damascus will foster closer ties between embattled nations that oppose Western world dominance, Ambassador Hossein Akbari claimed on Sunday in an interview with Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency, apparently alluding to America’s hegemonic foreign policy. “This trip will not only be beneficial for Tehran and Damascus, but it is a very good event that other countries in the region can also take advantage of.”
The timing of the visit makes it all the more important because of changes happening in the region, Akbari said. Iran and Saudi Arabia reportedly plan to open embassies in each other’s countries within days after agreeing last month to normalize relations under a deal brokered by China. Meanwhile, some Arab countries are normalizing relations with Damascus after years of joining the US in backing rebel fighters in a failed regime-change campaign against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The Syrian uprising began in 2011, triggering a war that killed over 500,000 people and created a massive refugee crisis. Assad emerged victorious, regaining control of most of his country, thanks largely to military and economic support from Iran and Russia. Iranian officials hope that success will inspire other nations opposed to US hegemony.
“This trip can open a space and chapter of interaction between the countries that oppose the domination system, especially the countries that are in the area of sanctions and have common interests,” Akbari said. “Other countries can also use it.”
Mohammad Jamshidi, Tehran’s deputy presidential chief of staff for political affairs, said Raisi’s trip to Syria will be a “celebration” for the so-called “axis of resistance.” He added, “West Asia has undergone a tense period of geopolitical change with two results: victory of Iran and failure of the US.”
General Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian military commander who was assassinated by US forces in January 2020, taught his country’s leader that “successful diplomacy is rooted in being powerful in the field,” Jamshidi said.
The last Iranian president to visit Damascus was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who traveled to the Syrian capital in 2010.