Judging by what statements have been heard recently from Moscow, there is a discord between Russia and Iran that jointly supported Damascus in the Syrian conflict, writes Bloomberg columnist Eli Lake. According to the journalist, one of the reasons is the influence of Israel, which tries to prevent Tehran from consolidating its presence on the Syrian territory.
Iran and Russia, the “diabolical union” that allowed “to save the Syrian regime” from the uprising, appears to be breaking up, writes columnist Bloomberg Eli Lake. As Lake emphasizes, this is particularly said by the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s last month’s promise that foreign forces will leave Syrian territory after the start of the political process for the settlement of the conflict in the country, as well as the recent words of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who noted last week that all the forces of foreign states must immediately withdraw from the bordering Syria with the Syrian province of Dar’a. Finally, “one of the leading Arab newspapers” on Friday said that Israel and Russia had recently reached an agreement on the withdrawal of foreign troops from the province, the author also notes.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman was in Moscow and said that Kremlin is sympathetic to the security interests of the Jewish state, including with regard to the border with Syria after a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu.
During the meeting, Avigdor Lieberman told Sergei Shoygu: “Israel appreciates the fact that Russia is sympathetic to our security needs, and especially in everything concerning the northern border of Israel. Continuation of our dialogue is extremely important, as well as maintaining an open line between the Israel and the Russian army on all issues on the agenda. ”
Recall, today the Israeli Defense Minister arrived on a working visit to Russia.
“The main focus of the talks was on ensuring that Iran and its satellites do not settle in Syria,” the Israeli Defense Minister said.
Earlier it was reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached an agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his last meeting that Russia would become the guarantor that the Iranian military will be significantly removed from the border of Syria with Israel.
The main topic of the talks, which the participants identified, was the situation on the borders of Syria with Jordan and Israel, where Russia would like to fully use the existing agreements on de-escalation.
“Israel appreciates the fact that Russia treats our security needs with understanding, and especially with regard to Israel’s northern border,” Liberman quoted his press service.
“The continuation of our dialogue is extremely important, as well as maintaining an open line between the IDF and the Russian army on all issues on the agenda,” the Israeli minister added.
In particular, it was about the situation in Syria, as well as the actions that Israel is taking to prevent the transformation of Syria into an Iranian bridgehead.
This is important at once for several reasons, Lake argues. First, he writes, Iran’s withdrawal of its forces from Syria under duress will be a serious blow to Tehran’s prestige, and just at the moment when the country prepares to impose tough economic sanctions on the part of the United States as a result of their rejection of the “nuclear deal”. Secondly, such a retreat would negate Iran’s plans to create a ground corridor to southern Lebanon, which was to become the channel of arms supplies to Tehran’s “most important satellite” – the Hezbollah movement, the journalist said.
As Lake reminds, preventing the establishment of a permanent Iranian presence in Syria for two years has been one of the priorities of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Last year, the Israeli leader tried to push the US to “challenge the Iranian forces in Syria,” but failed to achieve this – and so went to Moscow, the author writes. Since 2017, the prime minister himself and his ministers have stepped up diplomatic efforts in an attempt to “prove to Moscow that Russia will be unprofitable to allow Iran to turn Syria into a satellite state like Lebanon” – and, judging by the reaction of Israeli officials, these efforts have had some success, the author emphasizes. In particular, Moscow, having the opportunity to protect the Iranian forces from Israeli air strikes with the help of its air defense assets, chose not to apply them to Israel.
Meanwhile, Israeli authorities are reinforcing their diplomacy with the use of force in Syria: during the past two months, the Israeli air force began to fly to Syrian territory for attacks on Iranian targets than before – in April, it struck a Syrian base remote from the border, with which it was coordinated the actions of the armed formations by the Iranian commanders, and on May 10, during the exchange of strikes with Iran, struck the important objects of the Iranian infrastructure inside Syria, states Lake. Interestingly, the blows on May 10 were not condemned by any Russian official – and the day before them Netanyahu visited Moscow and held a meeting with Vladimir Putin, emphasizes the observer Bloomberg.
Although it is too early to say whether Israeli diplomacy will allow Russia to achieve “the complete elimination of Iran and its allied groups from Syria”, it is already clear that Netanyahu has achieved diplomatic success where the US presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump had fiasco, sums up the author. “The Israeli prime minister understands what the Americans have forgotten – namely, that diplomacy is effective only if the other party does not doubt your readiness to use force in case of failure,” he writes.