The civil war in Syria is nearing an end, but a new confrontation between Russia and Iran, on the one hand, and the United States and Israel on the other, has only just begun. About who controls the future of this important geopolitical center of the middle East, and what strategic benefits the parties can derive from the post-war situation, reported on 4 December the German newspaper Die Welt.
During the whole time Russia and Iran actively supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and now I want to get rewarded for it. Russia expands its only Mediterranean port in Tartus, and has already signed with Damascus a series of economic and military agreements.
Iran pursues a more dangerous purpose: to organize a ground corridor from Tehran to the Mediterranean sea by building military port in Tartus. In addition, Iran has also announced its intention to deploy its troops and fighters in Syria, as close to the border of their historic enemy — Israel. The US and Israel, in turn, want to prevent it at any cost.
So far, this confrontation was done mostly rhetorical. However, in the night of Saturday, Israel struck at a Syrian military complex of al-Kiswa South of Damascus. According to the BBC report, based on data from “Western intelligence agencies”, the Iranians have developed this database for their ground troops. However, the bombing became a double warning of Jerusalem — not only to Tehran but also Moscow.
According to the Iranian opposition, in the order of Tehran are already some 70,000 fighters in Syria, including hundreds of military personnel of the Islamic revolutionary guard Corps, about 7,000 Hizbollah and thousands of fighters”, Fatemiyon” Afghan Shia organizations, as well as volunteers from Iraq and Pakistan.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly expressed to Vladimir Putin his concern about Iran’s “seizure of power” in Syria. However, while neither Moscow nor the closest ally of Israel in Washington did not respond to what is happening. The agreement on the ceasefire in the southern part of Syria, signed a few weeks ago, the United States, Russia and Jordan, is not technically prohibits the Iranians to get closer to Israel’s Northern border on the Golan heights.
In mid-November the Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov said that the agreement clearly does not provide for the withdrawal of Iranian troops from Syria. Later, Alexander Shane, the Ambassador of Russia in Israel, called the presence of Iranian military on the border of Israel “legitimate”.
Israel, in turn, said that he intends to increase pressure. “We will not tolerate the consolidation of the Shia or Iranians in Syria and will not allow the country to become a base for attacks on Israel,” — said defense Minister of Israel Avigdor Lieberman.
The Minister urged to increase defense budget by about one billion euros over the next five years to respond to “new challenges”, in other words, to be able, if necessary, to fight on two fronts — against Lebanon and Syria.
The Israeli chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot in an interview with the Saudi newspaper openly warned that Iranian troops should not be closer than 50 kilometers to the Israeli border.
The attack on al-Kiswa is an important signal to Moscow, says an expert on Russian-Israeli relations Alex Tenzer: “Israel wanted to show to Putin that he takes very seriously its “red lines”. Whether made an impression on Moscow — is unclear. The recent attack was almost completely ignored by the Russian media, emphasizes Tenzer. But it can also mean that Moscow understands Israel or, at least, did not want to interfere in this issue.”
Putin at the same time not taking any steps to contain Iran in Syria: “Moscow has a lot of economic and political interests in Tehran, and to spoil relations it does not intend nor Israel, nor Iran,” — said Tenzer.
However, much more important, the Israeli message is supposed to be for Assad and Tehran. And it says: Israel will not shy away from an open exchange of blows in the case, if Iran continues to expand its military presence in Syria. Open conflict can begin very quickly. And then maybe the next bombing already killed Iranian soldiers.
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