Israel and Russia share a common goal of expelling Iran from Syria

With the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad seemingly being reaccepted in the Arab world, Israel and Russia are working to get Iran and its proxy Hezbollah out of the county.

Israel has been working the difficult task of destroying Tehran’s dreams of regional hegemony and an outpost against the Jewish state for nearly a decade through its War Between Wars (MABAM) campaign with hundreds of airstrikes in Syria.

More recently, he was accused of using a non-line-of-sight surface-to-surface missile to strike Iranian targets outside of Damascus in a rare daytime strike. That attack came when Russia was accused of attacking some 20 opposition targets in Idlib province.

Israel does not comment on most of the alleged attacks, but has been accused of carrying out attacks around the capital of Damascus, as well as inside Syrian territory, including northern Syria, near the Turkish border, as well as in the Al-Bukamal region near Syria. Iraqi border.

Russia intervened in the Syrian conflict in September 2015 on the side of Assad and Moscow is seen as the main power to talk to when Israel wants to carry out attacks in the country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during their meeting in Sochi, Russia, on October 22, 2021 (credit: SPUTNIK / EVGENY VIYATO / KREMLIN VIA REUTERS)

And while two players have been using a conflict resolution mechanism to avoid any unwanted conflict, the Russians, who are on the ground in Syria, are not the ones sitting in Moscow talking to the Israelis.

Russia has allowed Israel to maintain its freedom of operation over Syria, as long as it does not endanger its forces.

But Moscow has recently started reporting and condemning suspected Israeli airstrikes, and Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia said in June that airstrikes are “increasingly frequent” and that IAF airstrikes “complicate operations. efforts to stabilize the situation in Syria and the region. ” “

In Russia’s view, Nebenzia said, “the Syrian conflict does not have a military solution.”

A senior Israeli Air Force official downplayed those reports, recently telling reporters that there have been no changes to the dispute resolution mechanism and that the IAF continues to have freedom of action on Syria.

However, he said, Israel’s northern border may become much more complicated in the coming years with the deployment of more advanced air defense systems belonging to Iran in Syria.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett recently met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, the first meeting between the two since Bennett took office.

The encounter between the two was described by the Minister of Construction and Housing, Ze’ev Elkin, who acted as translator, as exceptionally warm. Elkin, who has acted as a translator between Putin and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the past decade, said the two leaders agreed that Israel’s policy toward Syria, including air strikes, would continue.

Although the senior IAF official had not been updated on the meeting between the two, it is likely that during that meeting the leaders agreed to work to get Iran out of Syria.

Israel understands that while its strongest ally remains the United States, Russia is the key influencer in the Middle East and it is Moscow that Assad will listen to to gain something from the outside world.

A greater international effort is being made to reach an agreement in Syria that will allow the war-torn country to start rebuilding itself, which Moscow understands means expelling all foreign forces from Syria. Especially Iran and its proxies like Hezbollah and other Shiite militias.

For the first time since civil war broke out more than a decade ago, Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman, agreed to reopen their embassies and Jordan reopened its border crossing with Syria.

Getting Iran out of the region has been a central focus of the Israeli military and, while Russia has been turning a blind eye to Iran’s actions in Syria, it has had enough.

For Israel, it is a matter of life and death. For Russia, it is a matter of prestige and exclusive influence over Assad.

The question is: Will Assad listen to Putin and choose Russian influence over Tehran? Or will he decide to stay in Iran’s camp and allow the Islamic Republic to further entrench its forces and weapons for a future war with Israel?

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