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Russians to Israel on Syria: We are Obligated | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia, September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Ivan Sekretarev/Pool

The parties in the region are endeavoring to reposition as a preliminary step in case an agreement to put an end to the war in Syria was reached according to the Russian plan. This is a significant phase that rearranges the region’s conditions to the worse or better, we don’t know. One of the major developments is the meddling of Israel.

Israelis are key players in what they call their security zones – their neighboring countries – even if they don’t appear on the scene. We are interested in knowing what happened in Moscow – the meetings of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian officials especially Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both parties reported that Syria was the major topic.

Netanyahu does not mind an agreement among fighting Syrian parties, according to the Russian plan, which means that head of Syrian regime Bashar Assad remains in the presidency and the opposition acquires limited powers. It is actually for their own good: a weak regime and an exhausted opposition.

Israeli PM sources revealed that he traveled to Moscow in the aim of “forcing” his “friend” Putin to pledge to “undermine” the presence of Iran, “Hezbollah” and other pro-Tehran militias in Syria. This means imposing a peace deal that obliges them to leave Syria.

The “baffling” response of Putin was: Moscow can’t present itself as a backer of Israel regarding the importance of undermining the Iranian presence and influence in Syria, in the current time, because Moscow sees that it still “needs” the Iranian role in Syria “until the war against ISIS is over and a political solution is reached there.”

But we know that future promises in these essential phases of making agreements are unreliable and usually don’t come true. Moscow pledged to shrink the presence of Iran and its allies but fulfilling this requires straightforward international guarantees.

Syrian forces entered Lebanon under the pretext of halting the war there in 1976 and they did not withdraw until 2005 after assassinating a huge number of Lebanese leaders including Rafic Hariri. Syria remained an occupied force in Lebanon for around three decades and Iran might do the same in Syria for a long time.

The source revealed that Moscow expects Israel to accept the Russian proposal given that Moscow already assisted Israel and provided it with intelligence coordinates to carry out raids that target “Hezbollah” in Syria as a “Russian bona fide towards Israel.” This proves that the Russians handed out Israel coordinates of Moghnieh son cells beside Quneitra to assassinate him.

It seems that Moscow is giving Israel one choice: to accept the Iranian presence in Syria claiming that it needs it or, in fact, can’t face it. The source declared that Moscow objects not over Israel trying to weaken “Hezbollah” in Syria through giving it the green light to attack “Hezbollah” in Lebanon.

We don’t assume here, that Israel will eradicate “Hezbollah” in Lebanon but it wants to undermine it because “Hezbollah” is even stronger than that. Russians see that a mammoth assault would oblige “Hezbollah” to withdraw from Syria to focus on a potential Israeli attack over Lebanon.

This explains the return of Israeli threats against “Hezbollah” in Lebanon – Israel wants to exhaust it through consuming its rocket ammunition in an Israeli-ruled war, draining the Iranian presence in Damascus, according to the Russian and Israeli point of view.

In my opinion, the Syrian condition based on foreign wars will lead to further tension and will expand the chaos without obliging Iran and its allies to leave Syria as a condition to terminate the war.