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Russian diplomacy in the Middle East is close to the biggest success in 30 years

Russian diplomacy in the Middle East is close to the biggest success in 30 years

31 May 2018 LJ cover – Российская дипломатия на Ближнем Востоке близка к крупнейшему успеху за 30 лет
Tags: War in the Middle East, Russia, Syria, Israel, Middle East, Iran, Analytics, International Relations

According to a number of data, Russia managed to almost impossible: to exclude from the Syrian conflict the factor of the Iranian-Israeli confrontation, which would allow the war to be translated into a decisive phase and to finish the process of unification of the country. But what exactly did Moscow promise Israel? And is it true that we had to betray our ally - Iran?

From the area around Palmyra, there are conflicting reports of major clashes between government troops and IGIL * militants, allegedly transferred to another attack on the ancient city.

In the Badia region, about 150 kilometers from Palmyra, a small enclave, controlled by the remains of the IGIL, has actually been preserved. Earlier, some jihadist units from Damascus were evacuated there. It was they who organized the attempt of a breakthrough in the direction of Palmyra, attacking parts of the Syrian Arab army east of the pumping station T3. The fights also went near the strategic zone of Hmima (Hmayma), which in fact is the same "Igilov stronghold" in the Badia zone.

All these events were perceived by impressionable people as "the third offensive of IGIL on Palmira." In fact, we are talking about the beginning of the clean-up of the Badia-Khmi-zone and the unsuccessful attempt to break the militants from the full circle. The fact that they broke through in this general direction to Palmyra, is nothing more than a geographical coincidence. The propensity of Arab sources to exaggerate and stylistic refinement additionally distorts the picture: instead of the usual telegraphic style of information messages, the reader often lurks adjective adjectives and excellent forms - "a major offensive," "intense fighting," etc.

There is reason to believe that these events, as well as exaggeration of their importance in the information space, should distract government forces from fighting in an entirely different region of the country - on the Golan Heights on the border with Israel. There are really important events going on right now.

On the morning of 30, one of the elite units of the Syrian army - the 42 Brigade of the 4 Armored Division, known as the "Forces of Guyta" (Chiasa) - received orders to advance to the province of Kuneitra to the border with Israel. There, she must join the Palestinian militia of Liua al-Quds (Jerusalem Brigade), which advances to the Israeli border in its own way. Simultaneously, the 39 and 40 brigades leave the town of Izra and through the Nassib Pass, already taken under the control of the "Forces of Guyata", are moving to the south of the province of Deraa.

It is expected that by the end of the week the famous brigade "Tigers" will begin to move in the same direction. Over some of Deraa's settlements, which are still controlled by jihadists, helicopters of government forces have already appeared, scattering leaflets calling for negotiations and promises of evacuation to the "goblin reserve," that is, Idlib.

As a result of this offensive, government forces will occupy the entire south-western Syria, thus completing the liberation of the country (with the exception of the same "goblin reserve").

According to some data, the operation was provided with a large-scale secret agreement between Russia, Iran, Israel and Damascus.

Under this agreement, Israel will not impede the restoration of the sovereignty of Damascus over the south-western part of the country right up to the temporary border in the Golan Heights and authorizes the presence of Palestinian units in the region, in particular, Liua al-Quds. And Russia guarantees that only government parts of Syria will be located in the Golan Heights, in the provinces of Kuneitra and Deraa, Alavite, Christian, Sunni and mixed. Shiites, Iranian personnel, parts of IRGC, and Hezbollah will not be admitted there.

In parallel, Moscow will publicly call for the withdrawal of all foreign forces, including Iranian and Turkish troops, from the territory of the RAA. These agreements were reached 9 May in Moscow at a meeting between Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu, and some details should be definitively negotiated next week, when his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman will arrive in Russia at the invitation of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Indirectly, this information was confirmed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, declaring 30 May at the "Primakov Readings" in Moscow: "As for the confrontation in Syria between Israel and Iran, we have agreements on the southwest zone of de-escalation, these agreements were reached between Russia, USA and Jordan. Israel knew them well as they prepared them. They suggest that this zone of de-escalation should consolidate stability and all non-Syrian forces must be withdrawn from this region. And I think that this should happen as soon as possible. "

Initially, Lavrov spoke about the At-Tanf district, which controls the American garrison and their "hand-bearded", but in the context of the reference to "all non-Syrian forces" sounded symbolic. Before, the Russian minister did not use such phrases.

If all this is the case, or almost so (there may be misunderstandings in detail, for example, Israel does not like the presence of any long-range artillery in the Golan, regardless of its state and religious affiliation), an operation in the south-west of Syria will not only cover the issue of the country's territorial integrity , again, Idliba), but also create a sort of regional balance of forces no longer on the intra-Syrian level, but rather more broadly.

The Syrian conflict, as is known, is "matryoshka" - consists of several "spheres of contradictions" built into each other, and the Syrian problems themselves are only a small part of them. And now Israel will receive a real guarantee of non-presence of Iranian troops and Shiites in its borders, which will allow eliminating one of the most destructive factors of confrontation - Iranian-Israeli.

This will not cure the Israeli concerns completely - it has deeper roots, and therefore Tel Aviv continues to insist on the right to monitor the actions of the Persians on Syrian territory, understanding to "follow" preventive air strikes. But Moscow is now the guarantor of the Shiites' non-penetration into sensitive zones for Israel, and this is an extremely serious argument.

This, perhaps, explains the somewhat cold reception that Sergei Lavrov rendered to the Iranian minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, which was perceived by many observers almost as a "betrayal." Tehran does not want to give away literally the words of the conquered positions that's so simple, but now the Persians still have to make concessions. In the end, no one could believe that Putin would manage to persuade Netanyahu not to make sharp moves during the offensive by the Syrian troops on the Golan and Deraa.

The rigidity of the anti-Assad position in Israel will not reduce this, but Tel-Aviv will have to reconcile itself with the restoration of the territorial integrity of Syria.

The US position is unknown, perhaps it simply does not exist. To such a turn of events Washington was not ready. Apparently, a sufficient level of secrecy was observed not only in Moscow and Damascus, but also in Tel Aviv, which is surprising in its own way and indicates that Israel has come to an agreement with Russia and Damascus very seriously.

Meanwhile, after the liberation of Kuneitra and Deraa, the American position at At-Tanf will again "sag". The Americans will have to go to the deaf defense of a completely meaningless and useless position, losing, moreover, the support of Jordan. All this is sad for Washington, but they are to blame. The main thing is that the first regional agreement has now been reached, which can actually reduce the degree of tension and does not infringe the rights of Syria as an independent entity.

If everything is resolved as planned, it will be possible to talk about the biggest success of Russian diplomacy in the Middle East over the past thirty years.

Eugene Kroutikov
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