Tehran’s intervention in Syria alone has cost billions of dollars that it will likely never recoup, say experts on Iranian affairs.
Iran has been lending funds and providing aid to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since the start of the conflict in 2011.
This has included a credit line of up to $7.6 billion, oil shipments worth $10.3 billion (between 2013 and 2018 alone), and other financial support, according to an Atlantic Council report published February 2020.
Iran’s support has been used to pay allied militiamen and deliver aid to the Assad regime, the report said.
Estimates of Iran’s actual military and economic spending in Syria alone range from $30 billion to $105 billion in the first seven years of the war alone, according to the report.
“It is not possible to ascertain the exact amount of money that Iran has spent in Syria from 2012 to date, but it is certainly more than the amount currently being circulated in the media and some reports, namely $30 billion,” Syrian lawyer Bashir al-Bassam told Al-Mashareq.
The higher amount is due to an overlap in aid, which has included direct support as well as credit, according to al-Bassam.
The lower amount stated by the media likely does not take into account Iran’s support of militias in Iraq and Lebanon, “which have played a prominent role in the Syrian war”, he noted.
Iran’s support for the Lebanese Hizbullah alone is an estimated annual $800 million, he said, noting that the money Iran has paid to Hizbullah and various Iraqi militias was also “invested” in the Syrian war.
All the main economic indicators in Iran show that the Islamic Republic is in a grave situation, with inflation skyrocketing, currency reserves plummeting, and growing discontent with the country’s leadership.
Public rage over economic and living conditions has reached a boiling point, and observers have cautioned that the next round of public protests might be far more violent than the November 2019 protests over the spike in fuel prices.
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