August 23, 2012 Special Dispatch No. 4907

Iran's Defense Minister: We Will Activate The Iran-Syria Defense Agreement Upon Syria's Request

August 23, 2012
Syria, Iran | Special Dispatch No. 4907

In a press conference following a meeting of the Iranian cabinet, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said that the strategic defense agreement between Tehran and Damascus, signed in 2007, is still in force. He added that "the main problem in the Syrian crisis is a confrontation between the [Syrian] state and terrorist groups. If the Syrian government does not manage to overcome these problems, we will activate the agreement, upon [the Syrians'] request."[1]

The following are excerpts from a report published by MEMRI in 2007 on the strategic defense agreement between Iran and Syria. For the full report, see The Strategic Alliance Between Iran and Syria – Military and Economic Aspects.

Iran Places Its Defense Resources at Syria's Disposal

On a March 10, 2007 Damascus visit, a high-ranking Iranian security delegation headed by Najar met with Assad, Turkmani, and Syrian Chief of Staff Ali Habib, and toured Syrian military and industrial facilities. During the visit, Najar and Turkmani signed a protocol on defense cooperation,[2] which included "developing and strengthening defense and security ties, safeguarding regional security [by the countries of the region], and [ensuring] uninterrupted consultation in order to uphold the interests of the two countries."[3]

During the visit, Najar declared that Iran was placing all its defense capabilities at Syria's disposal, and added that the discussions between the two sides during this visit had focused on weapons manufacturing cooperation and on strengthening Syria's defense capabilities. Turkmani, on his part, stated that the discussions had concerned "an exchange of technological know-how for weapons manufacturing and for conducting the necessary training, along with [other] military, defense, and political issues." He reiterated statements by his Iranian counterpart that "Iran's defense resources are at Syria's disposal." Turkmani added, "Relations between the two countries are strategic, and hence their actions are aimed at developing cooperation between the two armies and at strengthening their defense capability, so as to face the conspiracies of the enemies which are targeting the region in general, and Iran and Syria in particular."[4]

In early June 2007, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki remarked during a visit to Damascus that in the event of a military attack on Syria by the U.S. or Israel, "Iran will stand by Syria's side with all its options and capabilities."[5]

In April 2007, a high-ranking Syrian military delegation headed by Yahya Suleiman, director of Iran's National Defense Institute, paid a one-week visit to Iran. In a meeting with Iranian Deputy Chief of Staff Hassani Sadi, Suleiman stressed the need to expand Iranian-Syrian military cooperation. In addition, the Syrian delegation held discussions with Iranian Revolutionary Guards Commander Yahya Rahim Safavi and Iranian Defense Minister Najar. The delegation visited military bases, and observed the Iranian Defense Ministry's military capabilities.[6]

On July 19, 2007, Ahmadinejad paid a one-day visit to Syria. According to non-official sources, he was joined by a high-ranking military delegation headed by Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najar comprising over 20 officers from the General Staff and the Revolutionary Guards. The delegation arrived on the presidential plane, which landed in a remote corner of the Damascus airport.[7] During the visit, Ahmadinejad and Assad signed a statement reiterating the strategic alliance between Iran and Syria. In a joint press conference held by the two presidents, Ahmadinejad declared that "Iran and Syria have been, are, and always will be sisters and allies." He added that "the two countries present a powerful united front against the enemy in the region [i.e. the West and Israel]."[8]

On July 21, 2007, correspondent for the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Ali Nourizadeh wrote, citing an Iranian source that had monitored the Damascus talks, that during Ahmadinejad's visit a secret agreement had been signed on comprehensive strategic cooperation between the two countries. The agreement included the following articles:[9]

  1. Iran will finance Syria's purchase of weapons from Russia, Belarus, and North Korea, and will allocate $1 billion to the acquisition of 400 state-of-the-art Russian T-72 tanks, 18 Mig-31 jets, eight Sukhoi-24 bombers, and a number of Mi-8 helicopters.
  2. In Syria, an industrial concern will be established by the Iranian aircraft and space industry for the production of medium-range missiles.
  3. Factories for the production of missile launches for Nur, Arash, and Nazeat missiles will be established.
  4. The Syrian army will receive Al-Barqa armored vehicles and Zolfaqar tanks produced in Iran.
  5. The Syrian navy will receive C801 and C802 missiles manufactured in Iran, which are identical to Chinese surface-to-surface missiles.
  6. Syrian navy and air force officers will be trained in Iran.
  7. Syria will receive technological aid relating to nuclear research and chemical weapons.

[1], August 22, 2012.

[2] Teshreen (Syria), March 13, 2007.

[3] IRNA (Iran), March 12, 2007.

[4] Al-Nahar (Lebanon), March 11, 2007.

[5] Al-Safir (London), June 2, 2007.

[6] IRNA (Iran), April 21, 2007.

[7] Al-Markaziyya News Agency (Lebanon), July 23, 2007.

[8] Mehr (Iran), July 20, 2007.

[9] It should be noted that, according to Nourizadeh's report, the new agreement between Tehran and Damascus – in addition to the secret articles – also comprises open issues relating to economy, culture, science, tourism, and technology.

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