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Who Are Syria’s Main Trade Partners? Iran? Russia? No!


During the past 7 years of the Syrian crisis aka War of Terror waged by NATO and Co., the Syrian Arab Republic naturally resorted to its strategic allies, then partners, then friends, to keep the business sector functioning in order to preserve the country from becoming a fail state.

First of all, an overview in regards to Russia and Iran’s relations with Syria.

Let’s keep in mind that during the Iran-Iraq 8 years useless war among the two neighbors, Syria stood firmly on Iran’s side alienating itself from the major Arabic bloc which supported Saddam Hussien as the Syrian leadership saw from the beginning that war was instigated by the USA to weaken both countries Iran and Iraq.

Syria’s position to stand FIRMLY by Iran, which no other country in the world that time did, helped the Iranian state and Iranian army defend their country and save it from an imminent defeat. It was on Syria’s account when most Arabs decided to take revenge against Syria, imposing a severe blockade on the country, and with Saddam Hussein training anti-Islamic Muslim Brotherhood terrorists, Jordan facilitating their movements, Saudi and its other Gulfies financed them and Syrians bled on the streets.

One of the terrorists’ crimes was in Baghdad Street (the irony) in Damascus which claimed the lives of over 200 mostly civilians on the streets end of November 1981.

When the Qatari Emir visited Dr. Bashar al-Assad in 2007 and offered him a ‘deal he wouldn’t reject’, in their mentality, linking the Qatari gas from Qatar through Saudi, Jordan, Syria then to Europe, Dr. Assad simply rejected it. The offer would have made Syria as the international hub for distributing gas, a very wealthy and prosperous country along with a cash payment for the country and even a handsome payment for president Assad himself, but that would be on the account of Iran and Russia.

Dr. Assad took in consideration that the emerging economies of Iran and Russia would both be stripped from their main lifeline income. Dr. Assad, with his noble heart, counter-offered the Qatari offer with the ‘5 Seas Initiative’ to join forces of all countries shoring the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Arab/ Persian Gulf, and the Caspian Sea – excluding Israel, naturally. He flew to Mr. Putin and showed him the plan, and the latter thanked him for saving Mother Russia from the second wave of hunger and promised full support for Syria in case of any aggression by the camp Qatar is party to.

image-President Bashar al-Assad's 5 Seas Economic and Development Initiative
President Bashar al-Assad’s 5 Seas Economic and Development Initiative

Well, the years passed and Syria did become under attack by the camp Qatar is a part of, and it was one of the most vicious attacks the world witnessed with over 80 countries involved where Qatar and Saudi alone financed all filths of the Earth with over $137 Billion just to destroy Syria and topple the Syrian government.

In a response to this attack and, as expected from Russia and Iran, which Syria saved from starvation and a complete imploding collapse, they both supported Syria, well, NOT really. They did send some food, Russia sent some weapons, increased its presence in the country in designated places and turned off their air-defense systems during the tripartite NATO aggression on the country. Some humanitarian aid came as well from Russia and from Iran. But No, and a BIG SAD NO, when Syria needed badly its ‘allies’ it saved, they both thought they’re invincible by themselves and treated Syria more like a client of opportunity, striking deals with each country involved in destroying Syria on Syria’s account.

It’s a shame that during the past more than 7 years of the Syrian crisis, neither the Iranian nor the Russian presidents would visit Syria…! The only visit Mr. Putin did was to his troops and a protocol saluting issue occurred during it. But a state visit to Damascus was never done out for no real reason. While both Iranian and Russian presidents were jumping from one country into the other in the camp opposing Syria, Mr. Putin even visited Jordan once, Israel, and Turkey countless times, Egypt, among others.

Both countries, Iran and Russia, offered huge deals in investments in all fields, business more than usual, with each of the countries in the camp fighting Syria, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia, striking ‘historical deals’ with them, Iran boosted its economic ties with the Erdogan regime, while Mr. Putin offered nuclear plants to all the countries he visited, he also offered S400 air defense systems to NATO member state Turkey, and to US’s wheat-fed Egypt! And since nobody was interested in financing the $20 Billion Russian nuclear plant to be built in Turkey, Mr. Putin offered to finance it by Russia itself. But never in Syria, the most country in the whole region that needed such a plant, and such an air-defense system. Mr. Putin is still refusing to deliver the S300 air defense which Syria bought back in 2010.

Now back to trade ‘after I expressed some of my resentment’, the following is the list of Syria’s trading partners sorted by the percentage of bilateral trade in the year 2016 as published by the Syrian Central Bureau of Statistics:

  1. China, Syria’s largest trade partner with 8.2% of total Syrian foreign trade.
  2. Lebanon: 6.3%
  3. Russia: 6% (let’s not forget the weapons Syria tested for Russia in real battlefields)
  4. Iraq: 4.3%
  5. Egypt: 4%
  6. United Arab Emirates: 3.5%
  7. Saudi Arabia: 3.44%
  8. Ukraine: 3%
  9. Turkey: 2.7% (not including oil, factories, and wheat Erdogan’s ISIS, FSA and Nusra Front thugs stole from Syria)
  10. Brasil: 2.10%
  11. India: 2.09%
  12. Iran: 2.01%…!

Worth noting what is evident in Iranian foreign policy: Talk much act little. Iranian super supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei has ordered to establish a credit line for Iranian companies importing from Syria, the Iranian government officials in charge of the issue are still trying to find out what does a ‘credit line’ mean, or maybe where is Syria? In my personal ‘guess’.

The author, yours truly, is an ultra-patriotic Syrian expat who found himself writing articles and contributing on social media in a 3rd language defending his country in order to reach the maximum audience. While I highly appreciate and honorably value the Russian and Iranian troops sacrifices in the war on the terror Syria is fighting alongside the Syrian Arab Army heroes, I continue to look very suspiciously at the politicians in both countries Iran and Russia; you can say I have my reasons. And nothing to do with one of them holding a black belt in Judo playing chess, and the other carefully and slowly knitting the very large Persian rug.

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  1. Stefan Heuer

    This article made me think again of my hyper-positive views on Iran – i.e. the iranian leadership and its relation to Syria.
    You taught me facts I truly did not know, especially the 5-seas-initiative. We all have heared about Mr. Assad rejectiong Qatar’s dollars for betraying Russia and Iran, but I personally did not manage yet to fully interpret this issue to the point you did.

    As you know, my friend, I share your scepticism about Mr. Putin’s role (whom I maybe not enough have separated by my words from the staunch support of Russians for Syria). When president Assad visited Putin in Sotchi recently, it was again underlined that Assad / Syria to Mr. Putin seems to be not of that high class interest that, for instance, Netanyahu and Israel (regarding the fact that the massmurderer of children was allowed to spend a whole day at the Kremlin and even take part as “honourable guest” in the May 9th parade at Red Square). Russia’s leadership, it appears to mee, semems to be interested to keep the war in Syria running to promote their arms deals (but I can not really substantiate this impression). Whilst I turned sceptical on Putin since the obvious russian blackmailing of Syria in 2013, I also, somehow, managed to drop the facts about Iran you brought to my and to other readers focus. I am grateful you did.

    Maybe, in the end, we have to remember the words of a truly clever german politician. He once said: States are run by interests and goals to achive, not by values and moral. Big states follow big interests. Hence, I’d summarise, that your article can be helpful to break with dear illusions.

    In this context, I’d be interested to know your expertise about China and its stance towards Syria. There is a lot talk in the air about the “New Silk Road” which would connect Syria as well as other nations with the trade lines between China and western Europe, and about (real or assumed) investments into Syria by the chinese state. Maybe, you would like to tell us your interpretation on this topic? This, in my view, has gained some specific actual importance as China could easily replace Russia as Syria’s privileged arms-supplier, especially in the light of Russia’s disgusting role in the case of the S-300 (and, presumably, many others).

    Thank you very much for your important work and all the info you give us ppl in the west about Syria and the larger horizon of geopolitcs in the Middle East. Get on with that, and just ignore the deliberate blind Putinists who, on the occasion of this article, will again bash you for putting their beloved idol to the size it deserves.

  2. Arabi Souri

    China has its own strategies and had its fingers burned in Africa, so my personal assumption the Chinese will continue their moderate support to Syria, political to a bigger extent and will not embark on major projects investments until they make sure their investments would be safe from terrorists attacks.
    Chinese One Belt Road initiative aka New Silk Road can include any country especially the ones on the path from China to Europe and back. Syria is very well positioned to be a major hub for the Belt if the Chinese were more proactive.
    China by the way maintains very big relations with Israel, Chinese companies run the port of Umm Rashrash (Eilat) in south of occupied Palestine, and were planning for 2 more as I believe there. The Chinese and Israelis helping each others in Drones and other businesses.

  3. Max Havelaar

    It makes no sense for Russia, to not deliver the S300 to Syria, Lebanon and Irak to stabilize the ME by creating military balance in the region.

    Most likely, Putin is too much doing short term profits, like Iran.

    Too much politicians and not long term vision.

  4. Chuma Anierobi

    For Russians to die defending you is a high prize and Iranians too. It is very difficult to please humanity. Who is building the bridges now? I am very sad for this poor write up.

  5. Arabi Souri

    Russians in Syria died defending their country, not defending Syria. They’re fighting their war on our land. If Syria accepted the 2007 US offer presented by Qatar, Syria would be the richest country in the region with all the Qatari gas and Gulfies oil coming through Syria to Europe, and Russia and Iran would collapse if not starve.

    Read this:
    And remember that 14,000 of them came to Syria under the very watchful eyes of Russia, so Syrians would kill them in Syria. Those, otherwise, would be liberating Moscow.


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