Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

New Railway to Link Iranian, Syrian Coasts

New Railway to Link Iranian, Syrian Coasts

Monday, 4 November, 2019 - 10:00
Port of Latakia, Asharq Al-Awsat

A report by the Syrian ministry of transport revealed a bid on connecting Iranian and Syrian coasts as well as the Iranian town of Shalamcheh to Iraq’s Basra by a railway system that stretches from the Port of Imam Khomeini to the Port of Latakia.

Iran’s national state-owned railway system announced in April a project linking the cities of Shalamcheh and Basra via a 32-kilometer railway project financed and implemented by the Iranians.

Iran seeks to bolster its presence in Syria through scoring many vital economic agreements which will help it in dodging US sanctions.

It recently obtained the right to manage Syria’s port of Latakia after signing an agreement with President Bashar al-Assad during his visit to Tehran last February. Iran will use the Syrian port as an alternative route for shipping.

All this coincides with accelerating the implementation of the railway project linking Iran to Syria through Iraq. While the terms of the Iranian agreement to manage the port of Latakia were unclear, Moscow was quick to take control of the port of Tartus through a 49-year lease.

More on Syria-Iran deals, state news agency IRNA said a memorandum of understanding signed by the two countries’ electricity ministers in Tehran covered the construction of power plants, transmission lines, cutting losses in Syria’s electricity network, and the possibility of connecting the two countries’ grids through Iraq.

Iran, which has estimated expenditures in Syria at $6 billion yearly since 2012, has won economic contracts in Syria in agriculture, oil, industry, livestock and ports.

Its exports to Syria increased after a tax exemption. Tehran also signed an agreement to develop phosphate mines in Syria and is looking to enter the telecommunications sector as a third mobile operator.

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