On Wednesday, Russia walked out of a U.N. Security Council meeting where Britain was expected to pursue a resolution to authorize the use of force against Syria.
"The West handles the Islamic world the way a monkey handles a grenade," Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin tweeted.
Why it matters:
Russia is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. It has the power to veto Security Council resolutions against the Syrian regime and has done so repeatedly over the past two years. So, if the United States and its allies are relying on a U.N. mandate to greenlight a military strike, they may be waiting a long time.
Why it cares:
Iran and Syria are bound by two factors: religion and strategy.
a) Religion: Iran is the world's most populous Shiite Muslim nation. The Syrian government is dominated by Alawites, a Shiite offshoot, and the rebels are dominated by Sunnis.
That connection has bound them for quite a while. Iran counted on Syria as its only Arab ally during its eight-year war with Iraq. Iraq was Sunni-dominated.
The last thing Iran wants now is a Sunni-dominated Syria -- especially as the rebels' main supporters are Iran's Persian Gulf rivals: Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
b) Strategy: For Iran, Syria is also a strategically key ally. It's Iran's main conduit to the Shiite militia Hezbollah in Lebanon, the proxy through which Iran can threaten Israel with an arsenal of short-range missiles.
In 2009, the top U.S. diplomat in Damascus disclosed that Syria had begun delivery of ballistic missiles to Hezbollah, according to official cables leaked to and published by WikiLeaks.
So, it's in Iran's interest to see al-Assad's regime remain intact.
Western intelligence officials believe the Islamic Republic has provided technical help such as intelligence, communications and advice on crowd control and weapons as protests in Syria morphed into resistance.
A U.N. panel reported in May that Iranian weapons destined for Syria but seized in Turkey included assault rifles, explosives, detonators, machine guns and mortar shells.
Ayham Kamel of Eurasia Group believes the Iranians must be alarmed that the tide is turning against al-Assad.
"Iran probably has excellent information regarding Assad's position. That information would make clear that Iran is increasingly likely to lose its only ally in the region, greatly reducing its strategic reach," he said.
What's it saying:
Iran has cast events in Syria as part of a much broader ideological battle. It's a "war between the front of hegemony and the front of resistance," Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said.
Iran's position, as outlined by Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and new President Hassan Rouhani, is that the Syrian government is a victim of international plots.