A senior advisor to Iran Supreme Leader for international affairs, Ali Akbar Velayati said the Syrian regime President, Bashar al-Assad has issued a decision to open branches for Iranian Islamic Azad University in Syria, Iranian Tasnim news agency reported.
According to the agency, Velayati who is also the head of the Islamic Azad University board of founders has sent a message to the Syrian president announcing his readiness to establish branches for the university in Syria.
An expert in Syrian affairs, Abdul Hafiz Sharaf said the move will negatively affect the cultural scene in Syria and increase the Syrian “dependence” on Iran.
Sharaf said a similar move was taken earlier when Iranian cultural attaches were allowed to open in a number of cities, adding that these attaches acted as “a platform for spreading the Iranian revolution ideology and to recruit people to carry out this agenda”.
According to Sharaf, the Iranian universities in Syria “will operate under the cover of science in public, but at the same time will establish a base of intellectuals and graduates who are intellectually and politically associated with Iran”.
An expert in the Middle East and Gulf affairs, Hussein Abdul Hussein said the Iranian influence in the region is not limited to providing military and financial support to groups loyal to Tehran but includes what the Iranians call “educational mobilization”.
“Iran is working to strengthen its political, military and cultural influence in the region. It started in Lebanon then moved to Syria, Iraq and then Yemen, and may move to other countries in the future” he said.
Many Iranian universities have branches in many Arab countries like Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Lebanon.