Syria and Iran have signed a new military cooperation agreement in the face of increased international pressure for Iran nuclear sanctions. Congress is considering two bills this week.
Syrian Defense Minister Ali Habib warned that Syria and Iran would “jointly confront attacks” against any of the two countries, according to reports by Iran's semi-official Fars news agency. Iran’s Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi added that Syria and Iran face a “common enemy” and that the military alliance was an “element of deterrence” against Israel.
The agreement underscores the resilience of Tehran’s alliance with Damascus, despite overtures to the US in the past year, and allows Iran to project the image of a unified front in the face of threats of sanctions and military strikes.
Posturing aside, however, analysts say that Syria appears reluctant to jeopardize its newly increased respectability on the world stage, for which it struggled after years of international isolation.
The defense agreement came about at Iran’s initiative says Murhaf Jouejati, professor at the National Defense University in Washington. "The Syrians were reluctant to use the clear language [on mutual assistance] that Iran wanted to use,” he said.