Assad gives nod to Iranian Islamic university branches

A senior advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader on international affairs, Ali Akbar Velayati, said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has issued a directive to open branches of the Iranian Islamic Azad University in Syria, reports Middle East Monitor.

According to Iranian Tasnim News Agency, Velayati who is also the head of the Islamic Azad University board of founders, has already 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 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”.

Hussein Abdul Hussein, an expert in the Middle East and Gulf affairs, 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 mobilisation”. “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 several Arab countries like Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Lebanon.
Full report on the Middle East Monitor site