Monday, December 4, 2017

Putin's Double Game in Syria: Russian-Israeli Cooperation

by Sean Jobst
4 December 2017

Assorted Assad groupies and Putin cultists use as "evidence" of Putin's alleged chess-playing hidden "maneuvering" against Israel, his support for the Syrian government side in Syria's war. They simply ignore all evidence to the contrary, not least of which they're at a complete loss to explain why the Russian air force never engages with Israeli planes attacking their alleged "allies" in Syria, including this very week. Why is Putin always silent even in token criticism?

Much can be said about the Kremlin's role in setting the stage for what later became ISIS, by exporting thousands of extremists from its occupied territories in the Caucasus in 2013 and 2014, knowing full well they'd go to Syria. The flow of Russian-speaking fighters has continued to ISIS and other armed Wahhabist groups in Syria, yet we're supposed to believe this large number couldn't leave the Russian borders without complicity from the security services?

There has been direct coordination between Israel and Russia, after the Turkish air force shot down the Russian plane in September 2015. The purpose was defined by an Israeli military official during one of the frequent meetings between Israeli and Russian officials in Moscow: "Our agreement with the Russians is simple. Israel does not shoot down Russian planes and Russians do not shoot down Israeli planes."

Shortly thereafter, the two governments established what they termed a "deconflictualization mechanism" between the Russian air base at Hmeimin and the Israeli air force command: "The Russian president agreed during a meeting that the two countries are creating a joint "de-escalation" mechanism to prevent accidental air and ground clashes between Israeli and Russian pilots and air defense systems. Since the beginning of this coordination, which is still in place and working well, there was no need for additional meetings between the two leaders, the de-escalation device being implemented by high-ranking officers of both armies. And yet, Netanyahu continued to visit Russia to meet Putin.”

This corresponds to the intensifying Israeli-Russian cooperation, as Netanyahu himself admitted  during his trip to Moscow on 6 June 2016: “Russia is a world power and our relationship is getting closer and closer.  I worked for a rapprochement that serves us today, which contributes to our national security by preventing dangerous and unnecessary clashes on our northern border."

What About Russia's Cooperation with Iran?

It's no secret that Netanyahu did not get along with Obama on a personal basis. The immediate effect of this can be seen in the fact Netanyahu met far more with Putin. Another factor is the hysterical Israeli opposition to the U.S. deal with Iran, mobilizing their political forces in America to bring pressure against it on politicians, even while Israel has been strangely silent about Russia's military deals with the country Zionist partisans never tire of alarming the world against: Iran.

"Last week [late August 2016] we witnessed one of the most bizarre and unexplained events in the recent annals of Israel's foreign and security policy," observes Israeli commentator Yossi Melman. "Near Fordo's highly fortified nuclear enrichment facility, Iran has deployed its advanced S-300 air defense systems, built by Russia. While the United States expressed 'worry,' Israel kept silent. Local media reported the fact, but Israel's leaders did not say anything. This marks a stark contrast to the virulent, almost hysterical statements of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu against any military maneuver in Iran...

“It seems that Israel's silence has less to do with Iran - which it still considers as its number one enemy and which keeps its place at the top of the agenda of Israeli intelligence goals - and more with the Russia.  Since last year, Israel and Russia, or to be more precise Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin, have been flirting - a relationship that has puzzled the experts of Israel and the Middle East and set off the doorbell in Washington."

Russia is Israel's Policeman Against Hezbollah

Putin has personally pledged to Netanyahu that his forces would prevent weapon from passing through Syria to Hezbollah. "Russia ensures that Russian weapons do not end up in the hands of Hezbollah, which fights alongside the Syrian army, but is also a declared enemy of Israel," observes a French report about Netanyahu's many visits to Russia. "Last April, Benyamin Netanyahu admitted for the first time that Israel had attacked dozens of weapons convoys destined for Hezbollah."

This was further confirmed by a Jerusalem Post report dated 6 June 2016: "Although Moscow is working closely with the pro-Iranian axis including Israel's most hostile and strongest enemy in the region, the (Lebanese) Hezbollah movement, the Russian presence is having a moderating effect on Hezbollah's behavior to Israel.”

Russian Compliance in an Israeli Buffer Zone

A current map of the Syrian war reveals a chunk of territory controlled by anti-Assad rebels, along the border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. In early August 2017, Russian military forces replaced the Syrian military's presence in Daraa and Quneitra. This came only a month after Russia publicly allayed Israeli fears of a potential Iranian presence in the region, so it was obviously as an acceptable solution for Netanyahu.

On 26 November 2017, the Jerusalem Post mentioned Israeli reports about Putin mediating between Netanyahu and Assad, for a "demilitarized zone" - a buffer zone - in this same region on the borders of Golan Heights. This report was further confirmed by the Russian propaganda site, The Duran. As The Jerusalem Post reported:

"Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida revealed on Sunday that an Israeli source disclosed a promise from Jerusalem to destroy all Iranian facilities within 40 kilometers (25 miles) of Israel’s Golan Heights. The source, who remains unnamed, said that during Syrian President Bashar Assad’s surprise visit to Russia last week, Assad gave Russian Premier Vladimir Putin a message for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Damascus will agree to a demilitarized zone of up to 40 kilometers from the border in the Golan Heights as part of a comprehensive agreement between the two countries, but only if Israel does not work to remove Assad’s regime from power.”

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