Topic:

Syria

Tending to Israel’s Relationship with Russia

| December 26, 2018

The defeat of ISIS, the emergence of Russia as the patron of the Assad regime, and President Trump’s announcement of the withdrawal of US forces from Syria have affected the policies and alliances of Israel, Iran, the US, and Russia with respect to that country, potentially leading to a wide-scale conflagration. To reduce the risk of war, Israel needs to consolidate its security understanding with Russia over southern Syria.    

The Danger of a Widening Iranian Corridor Through Syria

| December 24, 2018

The surprise announcement by US President Donald Trump to pull American forces out of Syria has led to concern that Iran can now complete its “land bridge” from Tehran to Beirut.

The Russian-Israeli Crisis over Syria Lacks an Exit Strategy

| December 5, 2018

Israeli and Russian interests in Syria are colliding. Russia’s new posture is challenging Israel’s defensive campaign against Iran, and Moscow and Jerusalem have so far been unable to defuse the crisis.

The Russian Perspective on the Downing of the IL-20

| October 22, 2018

The downing of a Russian air force plane by Syrian government forces was a predictable consequence of the overcrowding of the Syrian battleground. The Russians might genuinely be angry at what happened, but from a geopolitical perspective, they understand that Israel will not abstain from further military interventions in Syria when needed. Israel’s national interest is at stake, and Jerusalem will not allow Iran to increase its already substantial presence.

Turkey’s Syrian Quagmire

| October 10, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan does not understand that his biggest divergence with Russia is over the future of all of Syria, not just a Syrian province. In theory, it is understandable that he wants to protect the “moderate fighters” because he feels indebted to them for their help to the Turkish army in two cross-border operations. But more than that, he wants to protect them in order to maintain a force that can eventually fight either or both of his two nemeses in Syria: President Assad and the Syrian Kurds.

A Snake Pit at the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center

The full spectrum of toxic substances dealt with at the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) is unknown. Alongside typical chemical warfare agents, snake venoms are an additional component, allegedly only as a means to manufacture anti-venom sera. The characteristics of a concrete serial product brought out within that context may point to a significant activity of SSRC.

Israel Must Rethink Its Syria Strategy After Downing of Russian Plane

The downing of the Russian plane requires Israel to reevaluate the continued relevance of its years-long air campaign in Syria. While the struggle to prevent the entrenchment of Iranian forces in Syria and the arming of Hezbollah with “tie-breaking” strategic weapons must continue, the nature and format of the campaign need to be adjusted to the new strategic reality that is being created by Moscow.

The Assad Regime Returns to the Golan

| August 15, 2018

The Assad regime’s recapture of the Syrian Golan Heights is advantageous to Israel, in light of the Israeli-Russian understanding to predicate the situation there on the May 1974 disengagement. Even if the new arrangement does not lead to a forty-year-long de facto peace like the one that prevailed prior to the eruption of the Syrian civil war, Assad will need to focus on rebuilding his regime, reconstituting Syria, and ensuring the continuation of Alawite rule. In these circumstances, not only does military confrontation with Israel not entail any conceivable gains but it would likely wreck the regime’s fragile recovery.

Have Putin and Netanyahu Struck a Grand Bargain?

| July 16, 2018

On July 8, Israel allegedly conducted an airstrike in Syrian territory that struck once again at the T4 base near Homs. Interestingly, Israel did not conduct any airstrikes to stop the concurrent advance of Syrian and Hezbollah forces southward. This might suggest that a grand bargain has been offered by Russia to Israel – one in which Moscow assures Jerusalem of an Iranian withdrawal in return for Israel’s acceptance of the consolidation of the Syrian state. This might explain Israel’s passivity, but it is by no means certain that Moscow will prevail on Tehran to withdraw from Syria.

Why Russia Needs Israel

| July 16, 2018

Why has Russia under Putin acknowledged Israel’s need to prevent the buildup of an Iranian military presence in Syria?  Putin’s vision is to cement an alliance of minorities against the Sunni majority in the Middle East. Israel could be a valuable participant in making that vision a reality – but only if Moscow works to rid Syria of the Iranian presence, joins forces to topple its Islamist regime, and weans the Alawite regime in Damascus away from Tehran.