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Syria and Iran are strategic allies. Syria is often called Iran's "closest ally", the Arab nationalism ideology of Syria's ruling Baath party notwithstanding. During the Iran–Iraq War, Syria sided with non-Arab Iran against its enemy Iraq and was isolated by Saudi Arabia and some of the Arab countries, with the exceptions of Libya, Lebanon, Algeria, Sudan and Oman. Iran and Syria have had a strategic alliance ever since, partially due to their common animosity towards Saddam Hussein and coordination against the United States and Israel. Syria and Iran cooperate on arms smuggling from Iran to the Hisbollah in Lebanon, which borders Israel. On 16 June 2006 the defence ministers of Iran and Syria signed an agreement for military cooperation against what they called the "common threats" presented by Israel and the United States. Details of the agreement were not specified, however Syrian defense minister Najjar said "Iran considers Syria's security its own security, and we consider our defense capabilities to be those of Syria." The visit also resulted in the sale of Iranian military hardware to Syria. In addition to receiving military hardware, Iran has consistently invested billions of dollars into the Syrian economy. The Syrian leadership, including President Assad himself, belongs predominantly to the Alawite branch of Shi'a Islam. Currently, Iran is involved in implementing several industrial projects in Syria, including cement factories, car assembly lines, power plants, and silo construction. Iran also plans to set up a joint Iranian–Syrian bank in the future. (via Freebase)