[original article in Khodnevis]
Even though most people are waiting for the nuclear negotiation results, and perhaps see Iran’s economy improve, according to some reports, a large sum of Iran’s money, more than the assets that have been released since the Geneva agreement, was spent to protect the Syrian government.
One UN spokesman, Stefan de Mistura, who is the UN’s special envoy in Syria, told Eli Lake, a Bloomberg columnist, that according to his calculations, Iran has spent $6B a year for Assad’s regime.
Nadim Shehadi, the new director of The Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies at The Fletcher School in Tufts University says that according to his estimates, the amount of Iran’s economic and military aid [to Syria] from 2012 and 2013 is equal to 14 to 15 billion dollars. This amount, however, is contrary to high-ranking officials of the Obama administration who claim that Iran’s government has only spent small amounts of money against the interests of the US and its allies in the region.
The spending of this money comes at a time when the Iranian government is negotiating with the six world powers on their nuclear program in order to lift sanctions. After extensive negotiations, the parties reached a temporary agreement on November 2013 which was called the Geneva agreement. The entire amount of Iran’s assets that were released during this agreement, is much less than the amount of Iran’s expenses to protect Bashar al-Assad.
According to Bloomberg, many members of the US Congress as well as American allies in the Middle East are worried that by easing of sanctions Iran will increase its spending throughout the region.
In a Pentagon report released the first week of June, Iran has not changed their region’s military and security policy during the last year. However, in order to reach its objectives, it has increased its diplomatic tactics and has avoided certain rhetoric. The report goes on to say that Iran wants to safeguard the Islamic Republic from external threats, strengthen its economy, and expand its influence throughout the region.
Nadim Shehadi in an interview said: “In the early 1990’s Saddam Hussein was killing his people and [Washington] was worried about weapons inspectors…Basha al-Assad also did the same. He distracted us with the chemical weapons issue while he was slaughtering his people. Iran is keeping us busy with the nuclear negotiations and we are giving them a blank check for Syria and the region.