Recently, Russia appears to have started increasing its economic activity in Syria, which has followed Iran’s exploitation of the Russian preoccupation with invasions of Ukrainian territory. In this context, Iran was presented with an opportunity to increase its economic influence in Syria.
Local media confirmed that economic cooperation between Moscow and Damascus has increased recently after progress was made on projects originally slated months ago, especially on files related to transport and shipping. The developments aim to boost trade between the two countries.
Deputy Minister of Transport Ammar Kamal el-Din announced a memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Transport and the Russian Government concerning the land, sea, and air transport sectors. Kamal el-Din also referred to projects for rehabilitating railways that were carried out by Russia before the war. These projects oversee rehabilitation from the destruction caused by armed terrorist organizations to the national railway system.
Kamal el-Din said that the Damascus-Aleppo train will be ready to resume service soon, after completing some necessary technical repairs and procuring Russian companies for the task.
Russia seeks to increase its effectiveness
Economic activity in Syria has not yet been highly productive, especially since it is limited to specific sectors. It is concentrated in ports, energy, and fertilizers, according to the economist and academic researcher Dr. Yahya al-Sayed Omar.
“Russia seems to be currently seeking to increase its effectiveness in Syria, but it will not reach high levels because of sanctions against Russia and the Syrian regime. So it is unlikely that we will see a real Russian economic renaissance in Syria,” Omar told Al-Hal Net.
Omar believes that Iran has recently exploited the decline in Russian presence in Syria as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Iran has pursued this plan to consolidate its economic gains, especially since Russia has captured most of Syria’s economic resources over the past years. By contrast, Iran has received little.
“Iran is seeking to capitalize on any opportunity for new gains, but Russia’s predominance in this area seems to be commensurate with Russia’s military presence. Russian military dominance is enormous compared with Iranian control. Russia has the upper hand in this respect — it largely controls the shipping sector, as well as oil and gas. And now, it is seeking to control the road transport sector.”
Over the past few years, the Damascus government has opened doors for Russia and Iran to acquire most of Syria’s economic sectors, which Syrian officials have repeatedly described as “strengthening economic cooperation between the two countries.”
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.