Iran to help Syria after US sanctions

Iran has promised to come to the aid of its regional ally Syria in the likely event that it is hit by US sanctions.

Syria's president, Bashar al-Asad, can expect Iranian assistance

Damascus faces economic and political penalties if the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Act, adopted by the US House of Representatives on October 15, passes into law.

“Iran is ready to extend assistance to Syria in all fields, especially the oil sector, if the Syria Accountability Act is implemented,” the head of Iran’s parliamentary National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Muhsin Mirdamadi, said in Damascus on Monday.

The economic impact of US sanctions is likely to be relatively low since the countries are not big trading partners.

US giant Exxon-Mobil has joint ventures with Syrian firms for  the production and sale of lubricants, and three small US companies won this year contracts to explore for oil in Syria.

Political impact

The legislation, which US President George Bush has indicated he will sign, also calls on Damascus to end its military presence in Lebanon.

The US accuses Syria of ties to so-called terror groups – namely Palestinian and Lebanese resistance groups – and purported efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction.

The proposed legislation gives the White House a range of options for sanctioning Syria, from restricting US exports and business investment to downgrading Washington’s diplomatic representation and imposing travel restrictions on Syrian diplomats in the United States.

The bill would also ban the exportation of “dual-use”
technology, allow the US government to freeze Syria’s assets in the United States and restrict overflight rights for Syrian aircraft inside US airspace.
Iran is itself subject to harsh US sanctions and relies on
European and Asian companies for many of its new oil and projects.

Source: AFP