>> The cars in this auto factory near Homs in Syria represent a hard reality for Iran's ambitions of economic expansion here. It's because the plant is owned by an Iranian state company. And before the war, up to 60 cars a day would be pumped off the assembly line.
Now, it's only a few. The cars are just gathering dust. Even when discounts are offered, too few Syrians can afford them.>> These cars are assembled by Saipa. It's an Iranian car company, one of two that assemble cars in Syria, along with Iran Khodro. And they have been doing so since before the Syrian War.
It shows the very close ties between Syria and Iran. The two countries have long been allies, and during the war, that alliance has grown even stronger. Syria has depended on Iran and its other main ally, Russia, for help in the war. And now, of course, it is Russia and Iran which are the two main economic partners for the Syrian government.
>> There are many problems. Car parts have to be shipped by sea instead of by the shorter land route because Syria's border with Iraq is closed. Western sanctions make it hard to transfer money. Ironically, they also face competition from Russian companies. Iran has given Damascus direct financial aid and it tried to help restore its infrastructure.
Meanwhile, Tehran has angled for economic concessions and market access. It may hope to eventually provide some compensation for its investment in the war. Since the conflict began, there have been more Iranian goods for sale. But as this business is finding out, few people are buying. It could be some time before Iran's investment pays off.