Tehran has strengthened its relations with Lebanon and Syria through specific economic commitments.
At the turn of April and May of this year it became obvious that Iran has finally achieved its most important strategic goal – access to the Mediterranean Sea. This was proved by the results of the visits of Iranian Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian to Lebanon and Iranian President Raisi to Syria.
Let's start with Lebanon. Here Iranian diplomacy can be credited with at least three achievements. First, it seems that the country's main problem – the absence of a legitimate government and, above all, of a president – has been resolved. This was made possible by the normalization of relations between Tehran and Riyadh. So it is likely that in the near future the system of government and administration will be restored in Lebanon. And Iran will become the recognized guarantor of its stability (along with the KSA).
For this future system to be effective, Iran has, secondly, strengthened and expanded its economic presence in Lebanon. Tehran had laid the foundations for this earlier, providing very tangible assistance to the Lebanese with fuel. Now the measures of emergency support are being replaced by long-term programs to restore the energy sector, infrastructure, etc. This means that the Iranians are beginning to deliberately conquer the Lebanese market and integrate the local economy into their strategy of economic expansion.
And thirdly, the Iranian foreign minister made a gesture, the political and symbolic significance of which can hardly be overestimated: he visited the Lebanese-Israeli border and planted an olive tree there.
The presence of such a high-ranking official of the "Ayatollah regime" on the Israeli border is unprecedented. This demonstrated that Iran is already on Israel's borders. Moreover, the head of the Iranian Foreign Ministry does not fear for his security, which (among other things) means that Tel Aviv was aware of Amir Abdollahian's plans and guaranteed that there would be no "surprises."
As for the olive tree, the symbol of peace, it can be taken as a symbol of the guarantees that Iran is willing to give if Israel accepts Iran's presence on its borders. In this connection, it is appropriate to recall the Lebanese-Israeli agreement on the delimitation of maritime borders, which was made possible by the positive stance of the pro-Iranian Hezbollah.
It can be argued that Iran has been able to "secure" a strong position in Lebanon and now expects all parties to respect this fact.
However, the "Lebanese bridgehead" cannot be the ultimate goal of Iranian strategy. And here it is time to move on to President Raisi's visit to Damascus.
This visit had been expected for a long time, almost since last autumn. There was much talk that its preparation was complicated by the deterioration of Iranian-Syrian relations, the tightening of the terms of economic aid to Damascus, etc. However, in any case, as a result the visit took place at a perfect moment.
Judge for yourself: Israel is mired in internal political turmoil and lives under the fear of a "war on several fronts", while Europe has practically abandoned it and the US wants nothing to do with the current Tel-Aviv government. On the other hand, Turkey, already weakened by the February earthquake, is busy with the "fateful" presidential elections. In this campaign, the topic of Syria is extremely important: both President Erdogan and his rival Kılıçdaroğlu understand the need to normalize relations with Damascus and are targeting it in one way or another. But neither of them seems to be able to do anything at the moment.
Finally, the Arabs, having set out to restore relations with Damascus, at the time of Raisi's visit (May 3) had not yet made a final decision on the return of the Syrian Arab Republic to the Arab League. Most importantly, they do not have a clear plan of action in Syria, especially in the economic sphere. Yes, they willingly express their desire to participate in the post-war revival of the "brotherly country," but they do not go beyond words.
This was the backdrop of the Iranian president's visit, during which a number of documents were signed, firmly cementing the position of the IRI in the SAR: the export of goods and equipment, the supply of weapons and the creation of defense enterprises, the reconstruction of ports and the construction of a railway line from Iran to the Mediterranean coast, the restoration of energy facilities and infrastructure.
Along with the Lebanese achievements, all this has confronted the region and the world with the fact that Iran has reached the Mediterranean Sea, and everyone will have to take it into account. This is a new geopolitical reality (note – unprecedented since the times of the Sassanid state). It is possible to integrate into it (it itself integrates into the Chinese strategy "One Belt, One Road"). But an attempt to change it is possible only by deciding on a major war.