It would not have been easy to understand the statement issued by the three-way summit between the Syrian President, the Turkish Prime Minister and the Emir of Qatar held in Turkey had it not been accompanied by political commentaries saying that the statement was advice for Iran whilst others called it a warning to Iran that it must reach an international agreement on its nuclear file with the West and if it does not, the situation will become more dangerous. The explanations that accompanied the statement gave it exceptional importance as it came directly from the three countries most sympathetic to Iran, and they are practically the last countries in the world that Tehran has. If it is true that the statement is a warning or open advice then Iran is now practically alone with no sympathizers except North Korea and Venezuela, which are both very far away and have no value in international and regional calculations.
At the same time, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, unusually, took the initiative to be courteous to Syria and appease it, as he accused Iran of being the one trying to stir up war between Syria and Israel and stressed that there is no upcoming battle, and that the Iranians want a war in order to divert attention away from the issue of sanctions against Iran. The IDF Chief of General Staff added to that by stating that the maneuvers currently taking place in north Israel are normal and part of scheduled training and are not aimed at Syria or Hezbollah.
The Israelis preceded Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, as Israeli President Shimon Peres flew to Moscow and met him before the Russian President made a rare visit to Syria. Peres told him that he had the following message: “You can tell [President Bashar al Assad] that five [Israeli] prime ministers agreed to restore the Golan Heights.” Of course he emphasized that the threat remains if Syria allows the armament of Hezbollah, which could lead to the outbreak of war in the region.
The complicated issues [in the region] are the Iranian nuclear file, Hezbollah’s weapons, Israel’s neglect of negotiations over the Golan Heights, and the complex relationship between Israel, Syria and Iran. Does Syria’s desire for a strategic alliance with Iran grant it protection or does it implicate it in a deeper and more dangerous dilemma? Does Iran want to exploit Syria’s isolation and hide behind the Palestinian-Syrian-Lebanese issue in order to build its nuclear weapon, which might become a bigger threat to Arab states than it is to Israel which has the power of nuclear deterrence? Does Israel want to exploit the Iranian nuclear file and the international anti-Iranian atmosphere in order to punish Syria and Hezbollah?
There is no doubt that this will be a decisive year.