Shared mechanisms for beating US sanctions against Iran may be built into Syria’s massive post-war reconstruction program, DEBKAfile’s exclusive sources report. This plan was approved by Presidents Vladimir Putin, Hassan Rouhani and Tayyip Erdogan at their Tehran summit on Sept. 7. It topped their agenda, in addition to coordination among Russian, Iranian and Syrian forces in their coming offensive for demolishing the last Syrian rebel stronghold in Idlib. The pause in launching ground operations in Idlib is accounted for by two major hurdles:
- Putin and Rouhani are keen to get started on building the new economic mechanisms. A full-scale war in Idlib would disrupt the process, especially if the Turkish president, who is against this offensive, gets in the way.
- Turkey continues to pour troops into Idlib for widening its foothold there. Neither the Russian nor the Iranian leader – least of all, Syria’s Bashar Assad – want to see their forces confronted by Turkish troops.
At their conference in Tehran, the three leaders forged an economic-strategic pact to create measures for fighting American sanctions. One measure approved was to contract all business deals among Russia, Iran and Turkey, including gas and oil, in local currencies instead of American dollars. The same rule would apply to banking transactions. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov first raised this proposal when he remarked that Russia and Turkey could conduct their bilateral trading deals to their national currencies instead of the US dollar.
US and Israel paid special note to the trilateral decision reached in Tehran to convert the massive projects for Syria’s post-war recovery (after Iran had solidified its military foothold there) into a back-door hatch for escaping US sanctions against Iran. During the Obama presidency, Oman and Abu Dhabi served this purpose; under Donald Trump, it will pass to Damascus, with the added benefit of protection from the deepening Russian-Iranian-Syrian military cooperation.