Ben Kew

Syria’s ruling Bashar al-Assad dictatorship has announced it is developing closer ties with North Korea based on “solid and deep-rooted foundations of friendship and cooperation.”

The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) revealed that Speaker of the People’s Assembly Hammoudeh Sabbagh held a meeting with North Korean Ambassador to Syria Jang Myong Ho on Monday.

Sabbagh reportedly “pointed out to the deep-rooted friendly relations binding the two countries, saluting the DPRK’s leadership and people for their positions towards Syria,” and “stressed that the steadfastness of the Syrian people, army, and leadership has been the main factor to bringing down all the conspiracies and plots against Syria.”

Myong, in turn, “affirmed the need to develop the parliamentary relations between the two countries, adding that the bilateral relations are based on solid and deep-rooted foundations of friendship and cooperation,” and “expressed happiness over the victories achieved by the Syrian Arab Army in confronting terrorist organizations.”

Syria and North Korea have maintained close diplomatic relations since the 1960s, keeping foreign embassies in both Damascus in Pyongyang. Fleeting reports went as far as to place North Korean troops alongside Assad’s Syrian Arab Army in the country’s civil war.

The Assad regime has also proved a lucrative customer to North Korea, which has sold Syria parts of its missile technology for its wars against Israel. In 2007, Israel bombed and destroyed a nuclear reactor in Syria believed to have been built in North Korea.

Last year, North Korea congratulated Assad on the 70th anniversary of the Baath Arab Socialist Party’s founding following the Trump administration’s decision to conduct airstrikes on a key Syrian military base.

“Today the Party is resolutely struggling to courageously shatter the vicious challenge and aggressive moves of the hostile forces at home and abroad and defend the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity under the leadership of Bashar Al-Assad,” North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un wrote to Assad.

Both countries find themselves as increasingly isolated actors in the international community, as North Korea continues to threaten nuclear war against the United States as well as its egregious human rights record, while the Assad regime has used chemical weapons against civilians.

However, both countries have managed to forge relations with other despotic regimes such as China, Russia, Zimbabwe, Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela providing crucial economic and military assistance to keep themselves in power.