Iran's Ambassador to Syria, Mehdi Sobhani, was interviewed on Ofogh TV (Iran) on December 12, 2021. The interviewer asked Sobhani about the fact that only eight percent of Syria's imports are from Iran even though Iran had played a major role in supporting the Syrian government during the civil war. Sobhani responded that to look at Iran's actions in Syria in terms of data and trade figures is "unfair" towards the people who sacrificed their lives for the "lofty goal" and "sacred ideal" that Iran was pursuing in Syria. He said that Iran's campaign in Syria is not over yet, and he emphasized that Iran was not involved in Syria in order to get a larger share of the Syrian market. In addition, Sobhani pointed out that Turkey and Syria have no official trade relations, so any discussion about Syrian-Turkish trade is only speculative. Later in the interview, Sobhani said that once American forces leave Iraq, the U.S. forces in Syria will lose their logistical support and will have no choice but to leave Syria in disgrace.
Interviewer: "Let me tell you what is in the hearts of the public, and what the man on the street is saying. They say that the main burden of saving and supporting Syria was carried by the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Protectors of the Shrine (of Sayidda Zaynab). But now it is time to distribute the spoils. Iran did not even receive its natural share – less than eight percent of Syria's imports are from Iran. The head of the Iran-Syria Chamber of Commerce has recently said that our main problem is that our traders and businessmen are not willing to go to Syria at all."
Amb. Mehdi Sobhani: "Since you spoke from the heart, let me also speak frankly. Quantifying what we did in Syria with such data and trade [figures] is unfair towards those who sacrificed their precious lives for the sake of this sacred ideal. These things are not comparable to begin with.
"Our reason for shedding our blood in Syria was never to increase our commercial opportunities there. This is not appropriate. We shed our blood there not in order to be able to export cement, for example, or to export food products or take a larger share of the Syrian market. We had a lofty goal and it is not over yet. The campaign in Syria is not over yet.
"If anyone wants to compare us to another country, such as Turkey – well, this is not the correct comparison. First of all, as I have said, Turkey has no legal connection with Syria. The Syrian government has officially announced that Turkish goods are prohibited [in Syria]. It is possible that trade is taking place in areas [under Turkish control], or that [Turkish products] enter Syria by smugglers, but there is no official trade between Turkey and Syria. What is said in the press is in fact journalistic speculations that cannot serve as a basis for political discussions or precise political interpretations.
"Rest assured that once U.S. forces leave Iraq, the American forces in Syria will lose their logistical support, and will have no choice but to leave Syrian soil in disgrace."