Syria Daily: A Russia-Israel Agreement for Assad Regime to Take Over South?

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Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman meets Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu, Moscow, May 31, 2018 (Vadim Savitsky/Russian Defense Ministry)

Russia and Israel are in discussions over an Assad regime takeover of opposition territory in southern Syria, according to Russian and Israeli media.

The two countries, who have had arrangements for cooperation since just before the Russian military intervention in September 2015, have been considering Israel’s objections to any pro-Assad offensive which includes Hezbollah, Iranian units, or Iranian-led foreign militia.

The Assad regime has vowed to take the territory in Dara’a Province — the site of the initial uprising in the seven-year conflict — and Quneitra Province, near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. But the regime’s military has been unable to make a major advance without Russian air support and the foreign troops on the ground.

On Monday and Tuesday, Russian Foreign Sergey Lavrov indicated an acceptance of the Israeli condition when he said all “non-Syrian” personnel must leave the zone near the Golan and along the Jordanian border. He pointed to a political process: the US, which agreed a “de-escalation zone” with Russia last July, would distance itself from the opposition and Jordan would press for rebel withdrawal.

But the trip of Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to Moscow then sparked the reports of an agreement over Assad regime military operations if the political process does not bring the rebel departure.

Yossi Melman of Maariv wrote:

Russia will influence Assad to ask Iran to keep a distance of 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) from the Israeli border, as was previously agreed. In addition, [Russia will pressure Assad to ask Iran] not to constructed permanent intelligence, missile launch and anti-aircraft bases, and positions across all of Syria. Israel will be allowed to attack Iran in Syria as long as it coordinates with Russia and doesn’t act against Assad.

Alex Fishman of Yedioth Aharonot went even farther, saying Israeli and Russian officers will coordinate the details of an Assad regime’s offensive. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu asked Lieberman for a commitment not to harm Russian advisors accompanying the regime forces. Israel is also demanding the return of UN peacekeepers to the demilitiarized zone along the Golan fence, according to the Israeli reporter.

Fishman said he was just repeating the claims of the Russian daily Kommersant, but as journalist Elizabeth Tsurkov noted: “That report doesn’t contain most of these details. I.e. he was given info on background & can’t divulge this. Goes to show the high sensitivity around the talks.”

Responding to the claims, the Free Syrian Army faction Firqat Usud al-Jolan called on “all Arab and regional countries to…intervene and abide to their commitments and moral obligations toward the Syrian people”.

Officially, Shoigu saidafter the 90-minute meeting with Lieberman on Thursday, “The development of the situation in Syria is demonstrating a positive trend.”

Lieberman said the meeting had concluded “successfully”: “Israel greatly appreciates Russia’s understanding of our security needs, especially regarding the situation on our northern border.”

But Russia’s Ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, elaborated to journalists on Friday, “My understanding is that the agreement was reached. Whether it has been implemented as of now, I cannot answer. If it hasn’t been done by now, it will be done in the near future.”

“Assad Can Stay if Iran Leaves”

After Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s statement early this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly pressed Moscow for more, demanding the withdrawal of Iranian personnel from all of Syria.

According to Israel’s Channel 10, National Security Advisor Meir Ben Shabat reframed the line in a meeting w/ French officials:

Israel has no problem with Assad remaining in power as long as the Iranians leave the country. We will continue to operate militarily against the Iranians in Syria hoping that the Russians or the Syrian regime will ask the Iranians to go home.

Israel has periodically struck regime and Iranian positions throughout the conflict, disrupting missile and weapons transfers to Lebanon’s Hezbollah, another key ally of Assad. The attacks have widened in recent months to target Iranian personnel at regime bases through the country, including the largest assault so far last month.

(h/t to Elizabeth Tsurkov)

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22 COMMENTS

    • What a pathetic little thing you are…..Now you include Israel in your (very poor evaluation) of the win win party just to point out on a presumed US defeat in all of this? You go to the point of switching from antisemitic rants to support as you please just to fit your desperation versus the US. Jesus christ what a bafoon you are.

      • My mother was Jew. Criticism of Israel is not antisemitc and anything that avoids a larger scale war is a win. If the Russians can broker an arrangement that Israel, Syria, Iran can live with, as well as preserve the state of Syria, that is indeed a win for all involved – except Saudi Arabia and regime changers and neocons.

        • Why can’t we have real pro-Israel Jews here for a change? You know, the kind of Jews that historically and heroically have sided with liberal democracy? And who rightfully want a historic homeland in peace. Which are the great majority of Jews. And by the way Andre – the dog whistle “neocon” is used by both the far left and far right to denote a Jewish conspiracy to rule the world. What’s next, you wish to drive Israel into the sea?

          • Why can’t we have real pro-Israel Jews here for a change?

            Real Jews huh? Don’t you love when racist supremacist alt right types lecture Jews on the meaning of Jewish identity? Who were the real Jews before 1948? Who were the real Jews in 1896 when Herzl’s concept of a Jewish state and was resoundingly dismissed as a crack pot idea by Jews at the time?

            the kind of Jews that historically and heroically have sided with liberal democracy?

            News flash. Apartheid and racial colonies are incompatible with liberal democracy.

            the dog whistle “neocon” is used by both the far left and far right to denote a Jewish conspiracy to rule the world.

            Actually the “neoconservative” term was first coined by Irving Kristol in 1979. Neocons only started claiming it was an anti semitic label when the Iraq war started going pear shaped and where trying to deflect blame for the debacle. Are you suggesting Kristol was anti-Semitic or a self hating Jew?

            What’s next, you wish to drive Israel into the sea?

            I would have thought it self evident that avoiding war was in the interests of both Iran and Israel.

            • Don’t you love when racist supremacist alt right types lecture Jews on the meaning of Jewish identity? Who were the real Jews before 1948? Who were the real Jews in 1896 when Herzl’s concept of a Jewish state and was resoundingly dismissed as a crack pot idea by Jews at the time?

              Lol – must have hit a nerve. You wouldn’t know Jewish identity even if it bit you in the bum. Jews are quite eclectic in politics, but you will rarely find a Jew who hates liberal democracy and western civilization as passionately as you do. Who would break bread with fascists and national socialists and communists when their atrocities are out there to be seen in the open. And then apologize for them. You would rarely find a Jew who wishes the demise of “crack pot” Israel in the name of “anti war” and who is also cheering a fascist dictator bombing his own people from the air, or gassing them in their homes.

            • News flash. Apartheid and racial colonies are incompatible with liberal democracy.

              See what I mean. Only rightwing Arabs or extreme leftists would use the word apartheid (or genocide) on Israel. “Racial colonies”? Like in South Africa? You call Gaza a “racial colony” of Israel? Shame on self-haters and political scum who side with ethnic cleansers and aspiring fascists and have the audacity to raise their heads out from the cesspool of lies and propaganda and disinformation. Liberals will one day find their teeth and deal with people like them.

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