Tehran has told Damascus it has to pay a higher price for Iranian oil upfront that so far it supplied cheap to its ally, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
In an exclusive report WSJ said that according to its sources, Tehran finding itself in a financial crunch and facing antigovernment protests, has asked the Bashar al-Assad government to pay around $70 per barrel of crude from now on. The move shows that Iran’s clerical regime finding itself in a political and economic crisis might be losing its leverage over regional allies such as Syria.
While the reported Iranian move might indeed be the result of its budget shortage and falling currency, Syria has been involved in a Russian-backed process to mend fences with Turkey, occupying part of the country’s north, without Iran’s participation. Tehran played a key role in saving the Syrian regime from its opponents in the 12-year-old civil war.
Iran, however, continues its public rhetoric in support of Syria and the Lebanese Hezbollah. During his trip to the two countries this week, foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian repeated offers of fuel and other assistance.
Iran by some estimates has spent more than $30 billion over the last decade to support Assad’s regime, in addition to tens of billions in assistance to Hezbollah and the Houthi rebels in Yemen. This has led to anger among Iranians who suffer from high inflation and declining living standards. Calls for ending the government’s regional interventions have echoed during protests in the past five years.