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Mar 05, 2019
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Iranian Gen. Rostam Ghasemi: Our Involvement in the Syria War Came with a Price, But Opened Economic Opportunities That Will Yield Profit Soon

#7080 | 05:46
Source: IRIB Ofogh TV (Iran)

General Rostam Ghasemi, former Iranian oil minister who serves as Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani’s Advisor for Syria’s Reconstruction, was interviewed on March 5 on Ofogh TV (Iran). General Ghasemi said that the Syrian and Iranian governments signed an agreement that was approved by Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, and which stipulated that Iran and Syria will partner in economic development projects in Syria. He spoke specifically about a phosphate mine in Syria that he said has a projected production of 1.8 billion tons, of which he said 1.2 billion tons belong to Iran according to the agreement. Ghasemi said that at an extraction rate of 10 million tons per year, Iran’s allotment from the phosphate mines would last over 120 years. He added that the agreement will not suffer from a similar contract Syria signed with the Russians. He said that Iran is also involved in Syria’s oil and gas industries. Furthermore, Ghasemi said an agreement has been signed to allow Iran to build and operate dozens of factories in Syria in the necessary sectors.

Following are excerpts:

 

General Rostam Ghasemi: There is an agreement between the Iranian and Syrian governments. In 2015, when I had several responsibilities on behalf of our government, a very good agreement was signed. In a way, this agreement was in exchange for our assistance for the Syrian government. It is a very good agreement that can be extended. The Iranian government is working to implement it. Take, for example, the phosphate mine you referred to.

Interviewer: But the [phosphate] agreement signed by the Russians is for 50 years…

General Rostam Ghasemi: I’m familiar with the details, because I was responsible for this agreement for a while. This agreement was approved by the Supreme National Security Council and was signed between Iran and Syria’s ministries of economy in early 2015. What does this agreement say? According to the agreement, Iran and Syria can partner in economic projects and in economic development in Syria. One example is the phosphate. Syria has a phosphate mine with a projected production of more than 1.8 billion tons. Pay attention to this figure: 1.8 billion tons.

Interviewer: According to the agreement with the Russians, it is [only] 105 million tons.

General Rostam Ghasemi: That’s exactly what I wanted to say.

 

[…]

 

The Syrian phosphate mine with its 1.8 billion tons… According to the agreement, 1.2 billion tons belong to Iran.

 

[…]

 

I signed this agreement.

Interviewer: What about the implementation?

General Rostam Ghasemi: The implementation has begun. Look, the Russians…

Interviewer: I have to ask a question here. This is a very important issue. Who’s doing all those things? The IRGC or the government? What is the role of the IRGC in all of this?

 

[…]

 

General Rostam Ghasemi: The IRGC had, and still has, a mission in Syria. I believe that its main mission was to fight ISIS.

 

[…]

 

Over 70% of Syria’s territory was held by ISIS. The IRGC played a significant role in liberating those areas. The IRGC played the main role in this. In general, the command of the region… The IRGC commanded the operations in most cases.

 

[…]

 

But in addition to the, [the IRGC] was helping the government.

 

[…]

 

The IRGC – especially Mr. Soleimani – helped, and the agreement was signed. It was signed between the two governments, but Soleimani’s role was not insignificant. He played the main role in signing these agreements.

 

[…]

 

Our agreements with the Syrian government stipulated that 1.2 billion tons [of phosphate] from the mine will be available to Iran. If we can extract 10 million tons of this phosphate potential every year, it will last for over 120 years.

 

[…]

 

Interviewer: What about Syria’s oil and gas?

General Rostam Ghasemi: We are involved in Syria’s oil and gas. It’s in the agreement.

 

[…]

 

In the area of communication… The cellular operator in Syria, and even the tourism development… They are all in the agreement.

 

[…]

 

The Syrians – both the Sunnis and the Shiites in the different provinces of Syria – have an affinity for Iran. The Syrian officials also had great cooperation [with Iran]. Some time ago, I had several meetings with the Syrian Industry Minister. These meetings led to an agreement that stipulates that we will be able to build dozens of factories in the necessary sectors, and [Syria] will give the Iranians the operating franchise. This has been signed.

 

[…]

 

Interviewer: Someone sent an SMS asking: We have so many poor people in our country, so why spend our money in Syria?

 

[…]

 

General Rostam Ghasemi: Our regime’s economic policies are made by the Supreme National Security Council. The fact of the matter is that ISIS was not created for Syria. It was created for us.

 

[…]

 

In order to defend our security and help the people of Syria, in order to guard the resistance… Our supreme national policy dictated that we would enter Syria. We went there and we paid a price, but today, there is a market at our disposal, and this market can quickly reimburse us if we do things properly. It won’t take long.

Interviewer: In our country, we have many unemployed people with unfulfilled potential, which can be fulfilled in Syria.

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