Commenting on the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Moscow and his meeting with President Putin, Russian geopolitical analyst Gevorg Mirzayan describes the major purpose of his visit and whether it was achieved.
“The Israeli Prime Minister has got lots to talk about with the Russian President. Among others, discussing the terms of further Russian-Israeli compromise on Syria (within which Israel does not prevent Putin saving Bashar Assad, and Putin, in turn, does not prevent Israel bombing depots which may house Russian and otherwise weapons which Assad supplies to Hezbollah, one of Israel’s main adversaries). And reduce the risk of Russian servicemen being caught up in the bombing,” Gevorg Mirzayan, Associate Professor of Finance University with the Government of the Russian Federation writes in his analytical article for RIA Novosti.
“I spoke with President Putin at length about the strategic significance of Iran creating a permanent presence in Syria, or its attempt to do so,” the Israeli prime minister told diplomatic reporters in a conference call after the meeting, as quoted by The Jerusalem Post.
“I said that it would undermine the stability, and actually hurt the possibility of a diplomatic arrangement [for Syria]. I made it clear that it is something that will be unacceptable to the State of Israel.”
“Netanyahu said that Iran’s efforts to establish a permanent presence in Syria in any future arrangement in the country was the reason for his visit. Russia is a central player in the on-off talks under way about the future of Syria,” the newspaper explains.
“Netanyahu’s request to Russia answers the interests of the key players in Syria – the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, who are not interested in Iran’s control over Syria,” Mirzayan writes in his article.
What is even more interesting, he says, it that this request partially correlates with the aims of the key external partner, Russia, which is aiming to reach a balance of powers in the Middle East while understanding that after the end of the war in Syria, Iran will regard Moscow as more of a competitor.
Moreover, the political analyst explains, Tel Aviv will also get the support of Damascus in this matter: Bashar Assad does not want to turn into an Iranian vassal state and wants to pursue an independent policy.
Hence, he suggests, the main difficulty is to decrease Iran’s influence in Syria without a direct military conflict with Tehran, which, of all the parties present in the region, only Saudi Arabia seems to be interested in.
The request of the Israeli leader to Moscow is “relatively modest,” the analyst says: Israel wants the withdrawal from Syria of the major contingent of Iranian forces and the forces of Iraqi Hezbollah units, which are under the control of Iran.
He also suggests that the two leaders might have been discussing the so-called “security zone” around the Golan Heights.
“The prime minister said he told Putin once again that Israel has no intention of ever leaving the Golan Heights, and wants the world to recognize that reality,” The Jerusalem Post quotes Netanyahu as saying after the meeting with the Russian President.
Finally, Mirzayan suggests, Tel Aviv wants to secure Moscow’s neutrality in case the solution of this crisis transfers from political to military means.
“From all the appearances, Moscow is considering its response. The task is anything but simple, besides balancing between Trump’s America and Iran, Moscow has now to balance Tehran and Tel Aviv,” Mirzayan states, further wandering what will Russia prefer: the newly proposed balance of powers or leaving things as they are.