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Israeli red lines before Iranian expansion in Syria

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Wednesday 29th of November 2017 04:46 PM

By, Shimaa Abu Emira

In the light of Israel's rejection of the understandings reached by both the United States and Russia regarding the crisis in Syria, and their signing of a cease-fire and the establishment of de-escalation zones in the south of Syria, including allowing the Iranian forces and Iranian-controlled militias to deploy in the border area on the Golan Heights, Israel announced that it would not accept this Iranian presence.

The agreement signed between the United States and Russia on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, held recently in Vietnam, was not the first. This is the second time that an agreement has been signed within two years on the future of the south of Syria

The understandings reached by the two sides with Jordan include arranging de-escalation zones in southern Syria for six months with the possibility of extension, and the removal of Iranian forces and Hezbollah and Shiite militias from the border with Israel on the Golan Heights at a distance of 7 km (on the slopes of el-Sheikh mountain towards Damascus) till 20 km (Central and southern Golan Heights).

The understandings also included the creation of a 5-kilometer buffer zone between Syrian rebel forces and Iranian forces and Hezbollah.

Jordanian media Minister Mohammed al-Momani commented saying that these understandings would impede the activities of non-Syrian fighters and Iranian militias working for Bashar al-Assad's regime in southern Syria, and that they would eventually lead to their exit from Syria.

Israeli demand

Since the Iranian expansion in Syria, Israel has demanded that Iranian forces and their agents be evacuated to a distance of up to 60 kilometers from the border and the creation of a buffer zone to the Druze Mountain from the east to Damascus in the north. The demand was partially accepted and talks was held about that Iranian forces could withdraw at 20-30 km away from the Israeli border.

But there was no interest during the two rounds of talks on Iran's practices related to setting up land, sea and air bases and infrastructure for the production and stockpiling of advanced weapons.

Israeli officials protested the reports on understandings between Russia and the United States on the issue of southern Syria, and declared that this agreement was drafted in very general lines; However, Israel will not allow any Iranian military presence in Syria, regardless of its location.

Observers in Israel have warned of any agreement that could not respond to Israeli security interests in Syria. They stressed that Tel Aviv would not be bound by such an agreement and would continue to keep the red lines it had identified; as the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "I made it clear to our friends in Washington and Moscow that we would move in Syria, including the Syrian south, in accordance with our understanding and security needs. "

Russian reply:

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did not hesitate to respond to the Israeli statements and said that the Iranian presence in Syria is a legitimate presence because it was called by the official and legitimate regime in Syria and that the agreement does not include a promise by Russia about an Iranian withdraw or the withdrawal of forces loyal to Iran from Syria. Russia aims through this replay to calm its ally Iran and to clarify that Moscow cares about its interests.

According to Russian policy, the rule of Assad is in the heart of  storm and will not stand without Iranian military support and the support of Hezbollah and Shiite militias that receive orders from Iran. And at the Iranian side, its future role in Syria is clear whether Assad remains or came any other Alawite president.

The difference between the Russian and Iranian views concerning the Syrian crisis in two issues first, Iran's adherence to keep Assad in power, and this cannot be attributed to Russia, which was willing to remove him from power in the case of a preferred alternative. The second point of contention is the form of government in Syria, where Russia believes that building federalism government in Syria is the most applicable, while Iran is interested in a strong Alawite central government under its authority.

The American attitude:

In terms of the American attitude on the Russian issue, observers in Tel Aviv see that the United States under Trump has no clear strategy regarding the current situation in Syria and the future of the state, President Trump attitude is like his predecessor, President Barack Obama that is the elimination of "ISIS" but There is not a clear strategy in terms of control or transfer of areas liberated from ISIS.

The US unclear attitude came as Trump said during his speech on the nuclear agreement in October 2017, that: "Iran is a key factor in the instability of the region," and therefore there is no specific US program towards the Iranian presence in Syria, so it is difficult to expect that the United States will intervene and repeat its painful scenario in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Iranian progress

Iran is the biggest victor in the Syrian issue, although the way to the end of the war and regain stability in Syria is still long. This is because the opportunities offered by the United States and Russia to extend its control and influence over Syria, and they do not want to face it at this stage. Iran from its side continues to tighten its grip on Syria in the long term by establishing bases and camps for its agents to produce and stockpile weapons.

Iran has recently been recruiting Syrian citizens, especially Shi'ites, to establish a Hezbollah-like organization in Lebanon. Iran plans to join the Syrian army that is  loyal to President Assad, so Iran is fighting to maintain and develop the Shiite militant focus in Syria, the matter which poses as challenge to  Israel on the Golan Heights.

The Israeli position

Israel, for its part, preferred not to interfere in Syria since 2011, resulting in the absence of Israeli influence in the current war, so Iranian presence in Syria increased. When Israel realized that the rug was withdrawing from under its feet, it began to talk about the red lines that it could not overcome.

The observers in Israel identify two options in the Syrian crisis: first, to present a clear position on the red lines of Israel's refusal to produce, install and store weapons throughout Syria, which pose a real threat to Israel's security, danger that will later be difficult to eradicate. And second, to maintain ambiguity and red lines through actions, not words, in the sense of using military force commensurate with its assessment of the threat.

 

CEO : Dr. Mohamed El Baz
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