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Why is Iran’s foreign minister in Syria? - analysis

The Jerusalem Post logo The Jerusalem Post 3/24/2022 By SETH J. FRANTZMAN

 Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian meets with Syria © (photo credit: SANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS) Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian meets with Syria

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian left for Damascus, the capital of Syria, at the head of a delegation of Foreign Ministry officials this week. Iranian media reported on the trip. It was therefore not some kind of secret. It comes after the Syrian regime leader Bashar Assad visited the United Arab Emirates.

Iran’s media didn’t elaborate much about the trip, noting that the Iranians talked with senior Syrian officials about developments in relations between the two countries. Faisal Mekdad of Syria spoke to reporters in Damascus, according to ABC News. Apparently, Assad also attended the meetings as well as Syrian official Maj.-Gen. Ali Mamlouk.

“Amirabdollahian welcomed the reconciliation approach by the United Arab Emirates toward Syria. He added that Tehran is close to reaching an agreement on its nuclear program with world powers,” ABC noted.

Unsurprisingly both countries said they backed Russia and understood its security concerns regarding Ukraine. “Russia is defending us all and is defending its sovereignty,” Mekdad said.

The Syrian Arab News Agency reported that the two countries agreed that the “international balance should not be subjected to dangerous shocks through which Western countries threaten international peace and security.”

 Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian meets with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Syria, in this handout released by SANA on March 23, 2022. (credit: SANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS) © Provided by The Jerusalem Post Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian meets with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Syria, in this handout released by SANA on March 23, 2022. (credit: SANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

They also talked about the UAE visit. “We welcome and we are satisfied with what some Arab countries are doing by normalizing relations with Syria,” Amirabdollahian said. Of interest, Iran has hinted that it may be close to getting a new Iran deal agreement with the US via negotiations in Europe. Russia had been holding up the talks.

The meeting comes in the context of Iran’s use of missiles to target Erbil in Iraq, where US forces are based. Tehran has said it also targeted a “Mossad” facility in Erbil. Another report said that in February the US intercepted Iranian drones that were aimed at Israel. Clearly, Iran is messaging about its capabilities.

The meeting also showcases the continued strong relations between Tehran and Damascus. Reports in Turkish media recently said that Iran may be increasing its role in Syria as Russia is focused on Ukraine. This could have implications for Israel. As Iran gets closer to a deal, it will likely increase its attacks against Israel using drones and missiles, as well as its entrenchment in Syria.

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