The countries came close to war a decade ago, now they are establishing a strategic partnership that will have major consequences for the future of the region. Opening the Turkish/Syrian border, removing the visa requirement, and restoring a stretch of the Hejaz railway line that operated before the first world war should lead to an unprecedented increase in bilateral trade. Trade has already risen from $500m to $1.8bn over the past 10 years.
Balancing the maintenance of its long-term alliance with Iran, while adding Israel to the mix:
The Tehran-Damascus axis was formed immediately after the 1979 Iranian revolution. It has withstood crises, but the two countries do not have the same vision, or interests. Unlike Iran, Syria is ready to recognise Israel and negotiate with it.
Assad also pokes at what he perceives Europe’s lack of vision, cohesion, and independence when it comes to politics.
Europe is absent. “In the 1970s and 1980s, Europe was more objective than today; there was the Soviet Union on one side, and Europe was with the Americans. Now they have to be more independent; but they are going in the wrong direction, the cold war has ended.”