Egypt changed its interest in regional armed conflict after the Arab-Israeli War, 1967. The U.S., led by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s active diplomacy shuttling from Washington D.C. to Cairo, attempted to broker an agreement for disengagement between Israel and Egypt.
One of Israel’s lead interests, which was later acknowledged as well by Kissinger, was to detach Egypt from the united Arab front against Israel, and ultimately pull Egypt out of the radical belt, found in the article, In Syria and the Middle East Peace Process.
This flagrant break from tradition spelled out new realities for Syria: primarily a need to search for new alliances. Syria would begin to redesign its foreign policy to challenge the Egypt-Israel-U.S. partnership. Hafez al-Asad sought fresh angles to locate an entry point to regain lost territory.
The Egyptian shift toward the West pushed Syria further east towards Iran. Hafez al-Asad reevaluated his foreign policy to protest the U.S. brokered agreement. Hafez al-Asad’s immediate recognition, and open hand toward the Islamic Republic of Iran, was linked to Hafez al-Asad’s audacious protest of the Sinai II agreement, and the following Camp David peace talks.
“The most daring feature of Hafez al-Asad’s foreign policy, reshaped to confront the world of Camp David, was undoubtedly his alliance with revolutionary Iran, which led to something quite new in the region – a Shi’i axis from Tehran through Damascus to South Lebanon. From the moment Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomayni took power in early 1979 Assad judged it a supreme Arab interest to befriend him. It was not a perception shared by many in the region, least of all by Iran’s Arab neighbors,” found in the book, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East.
Hafez al-Asad had become isolated militarily from Egypt, and ideologically from Iraq. The Sinai II agreement did not create a feud between Syria and Iraq, but it exacerbated a rumbling conflict of which the root cause was the gory split in the Ba’th party.
The eclipse of its Egyptian military partnership as a result of the U.S. backed agreement, furthered damaged the fractured Ba’th hierarchy. This realignment presented an opportunity for Hafez al-Asad. He decided to seek military ties with new patrons like the Islamic Republic of Iran. By the mid-70s Syrian leadership appeared fertile for formal state interest in a future anti-Western Iran.
Hafez al-Asad would soon approach revolutionary Iran, as a response to the Camp David peace talks. Syria led the opposition to Sinai II, 1975, and U.S. action in the region, along with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). The signing of Sinai II carried Syria’s greatest security fears along with it: the abandonment of a united Arab front against Israel and the West dictating Middle Eastern terms.