Iran has started building a $10 billion natural gas pipeline to Syria, a key ally, in an apparent nod of support to President Bashar Assad’s regime, as well as an attempt to boost energy exports that have been battered by international sanctions.
The pipeline, which will measure 750 miles when completed, was first announced in July 2011 as Syrian rebels began stepping up their campaign to oust President Assad, reports ABC News.
Many analysts predicted that the pipeline would remain in planning stages because of the risks involved, but it appears Iran has decided to start on the beginning sections. The decision is also considered a public show of confidence that rebels will not be able to oust the Assad regime from Syria.
Along with confidence over Syria, Iran’s construction of the natural gas pipeline also reflects their efforts to expand natural gas an oil in the Middle East, as well as Asian markets, after Western sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program has cut into sales.
Yahoo! News notes that Iran started construction of the first phase of the pipeline which involves a 140-mile section and is estimated to cost $3 billion. The pipeline, once complete, will carry natural gas from the giant South Pars field in the Persian Gulf through Iraq and into Syria.
Economist Saeed Leilaz predicts that the pipeline construction is just for show and will not actually be completed. Leilaz stated:
“Given the ongoing civil war in Syria, such a project can’t be implemented now. Lack of security and political instability in Iraq and Syria doesn’t allow this project to be enforced at least at this point. This is a symbolic gesture by Iran to show that it can bypass Western sanctions.”
If the $10 billion pipeline project is ever completed, Iran will supply natural gas to Syria, Armenia, Turkey, and other nations in the Middle East.