As the showdown between Washington and Tehran escalates elsewhere in the Gulf, Iran is giving high priority to an effort to secure, control and reopen the al-Bukamal border crossing at Qaim, the only Syrian-Iraqi border crossing under Iranian control, to solidify its influence in the Levant and mitigate the impact of US sanctions. It remains to be seen, however, whether Iran will pull off this move and how the Donald Trump administration might react.
On April 23, two buses carrying Iraqi pilgrims visiting the Shrine of Sayyida Zeinab near Damascus passed through the al-Bukamal crossing for the first time since 2012, signaling it might soon open for business and travel. The city of al-Bukamal, also often referred to as Abu Kamal, is located on the Euphrates River in Deir ez-Zor province in eastern Syria. The crossing into Qaim, in Iraq's Anbar province, might open within six months, Iraqi border officials say.