Perhaps in expectation of a windfall after the nuke deal is signed, Iran is spending some cash—to keep Bashar Assad on his blood-washed throne. Reuters reports:
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad signed a law ratifying a $1 billion credit line from top regional ally Iran, Syria’s state news agency SANA said on Wednesday, funds which will help ease economic strains from the costly war.
The agreement was between two state-owned banks, the Syrian Commercial Bank and Export Development Bank of Iran, it said. Syria signed a previous $3.6 billion credit line with Iran in July 2013 which has been used up mostly for oil imports, bankers have said.
Iran also helps the Assad regime, which had been its client well before the civil war broke out, through direct oil transfers (without expecting payment in return, thus technically evading sanctions).
We wrote last week that Tehran had begun “spending a bit against its expected future earnings”—that is, both the ‘windfall’ of released funds that will follow an agreement and the profits Iranian industries expect after sanctions are lifted—with a $600M line of credit to Venezuela. Like much of the regime’s “outreach” in Africa and elsewhere, that move was a bit of opportunistic trouble-making. Syria, however, is much closer to home, and much more central to the regime’s project. Imagine how much it will pour into the tottering Assad’s pockets when the cash really starts to roll in.