British paper, The Times, said that Damascus International Fair which kicks off Thursday in the Syrian capital is a sign of President Bashar Assad’s growing confidence that he has snatched back control of the crisis-hit country.
“In a sign of President Assad’s growing confidence that he has snatched back control of Syria, the first international trade fair in five years opens today in the capital, Damascus,” The Times said on Thursday.
The paper said dignitaries from 42 “friendly countries” will arrive today in Damascus, to pitch for investment and reconstruction contracts worth billions, noting that foreign companies will be allowed to sell the products they are exhibiting, bypassing Syria’s strict import rules.
It added that Iran and Russia are already cashing in on their policies in Syria.
“This year Russia has won a series of oil and construction contracts in the war-ravaged country, while a free trade agreement signed last November opens the way for Syria to export its agricultural products,” The Times reported.
“Iran, which is hosting a photo exhibition at the fair documenting the years of warm relations between Tehran and Damascus, has also swelled its economic interests there. It has been granted a license to operate a mobile phone network, as well as pumping credit into the country to keep its economy afloat,” the paper added.
It noted that other countries have quietly continued their relations with Assad and are now winning contracts to help to rebuild the country, including India, Japan, Belarus, the Czech Republic, Cyprus and some European Union countries.