(Persia Digest) – The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has said that unless Syria orders Iranian forces out of this country, it will not pay a penny for its reconstruction. On the other hand, the Iranian Spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry has announced that his country’s private sector has been asked to participate in the Syrian reconstruction by President Bashar al-Assad.

Is the United States opposed to any Iranian presence in Syria, or is this opposition only in the military dimension?

International relations expert and researcher in Tehran, Dr Rahman Ghahremanpour, told Persia Digest (PD) in an interview: “Presently, disarming opposition groups and creating political stability in Syria is higher on the agenda that reconstruction. As such, reconstruction is not at a decision-making stage and neither America or any other countries involved in Syria have set plans for this.”

He continued: “Under the present circumstances, the security and political apparatus of all countries are engaged in the division of power in order to reduce disagreements, compile a new constitution, and design an elections system with UN help. The reconstruction phase can only begin after these issues have been resolved.”

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He added: “Investors will obviously not go to an insecure country, especially in the private sector. This is a very sensitive issue. When capital flees from countries such as Malaysia, South Korea, Turkey, and South Africa with the smallest unrest, it can safely be deduced that the private sector will not enter Syria at all except with government support and guarantees."

Commenting on what Pompeo said about Iranian forces leaving Syria as a prerequisite for American help in the Syrian reconstruction, Ghahremanpour said: “The next two to three years will only be about political stability in Syria before reconstruction can be discussed. Remarks by the US Secretary of State is merely public diplomacy and psychological warfare.”

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He reiterated: “Of course, the reconstruction phase will overlap with the military phase. Because, in some areas like Damascus and Aleppo, reconstruction must begin sooner rather than later due to their strategic location. Stability and security will have to coincide with reconstruction.”

Speaking about the involvement of Iran’s private sector in Syria, he reminded: “As the private sector will not enter an unstable region, this presence is witness to government support for this sector.”

Ghahremanpour added: “Accordingly, evidence does not show that if the Iranian private sector enters Syria, the United States will prevent it. If this happens, a country like Russia with a serious presence in the area must take such a step.”

He went on to say: “In recent years, US political influence and consequently its economic influence have diminished in Syria. It does not seem logical for Damascus to extend an invitation to Washington for a strong presence here in the aftermath of political stability and reconstruction. An invitation by the Syrian government is a very important issue. If this does not happen, it invalidates Pompeo’s comments.”

He underlined: “Also, international trade laws do not allow the United States to prevent Iran from entering Syria under wild claims and accusations. The economic environment is a competitive one.”

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