Iran believes the West and almost all Arab countries are in cahoots in an effort to implement regime change in Syria. Iran says the main objective of this plot is to make the region safer for Israel.
This week, Zarif warned of "graver conditions" in Syria is attacked.
"If any country attacks another when it wants, that is like the Middle Ages," Zarif said Wednesday.
Why it matters:
Many believe Iran is Washington's greatest threat in the region, especially with its nuclear potential. It's unclear how Iran might respond if Syria is attacked. But the rhetoric certainly has been ominous.
"Starting this fire will be like a spark in a large store of gunpowder, with unclear and unspecified outcomes and consequences," Khamenei told Iranian Cabinet members this week.
"The U.S. threats and possible intervention in Syria is a disaster for the region and if such an act is done, certainly, the Americans will sustain damage like when they interfered in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Why it cares:
China's relationship with Syria is more nuanced.
Some say it wants to maintain its financial ties. It was ranked as Syria's third-largest importer in 2010, according to data from the European Commission.
"Beijing's renewed interest in Damascus -- the traditional terminus node of the ancient Silk Road ... indicates that China sees Syria as an important trading hub," according to a 2010 report from The Jamestown Foundation, a Washington-based research and analysis institute.
But there's a bigger factor at play.
China has said foreign countries shouldn't meddle in Syria's internal affairs -- and perhaps for good reason. China has had its own share of international controversies over its policies with Tibet as well as allegations of human rights violations.
Finally, China doesn't want to reprise what happened with Libya.
It abstained from a U.N. Security Council resolution on that one, clearing the way for a NATO military intervention in Libya.
"It was rather disappointed with the payoff," said Yun Sun of the Brookings Institution, writing in the East-West Center's Asia Pacific Bulletin. "Neither the West nor the NTC (Libyan National Transitional Council) showed much appreciation for China's abstention."
So, he says, China has "formulated a far more sophisticated hedging strategy" when it comes to Syria.
"Rather than siding with either Assad or the opposition and standing aside to 'wait and see,' Beijing is actively betting on both."
What's it saying: