Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent trip to Russia to attend Victory Day has confused many within the alt-media community with some erroneously referring to Russia as a ‘traitor’ to Syria, and others claiming it was a stroke of strategic genius on the part of Putin. The first theory is absurd, because one cannot be a traitor to another country. Just as Syria can only be a traitor to itself, ditto Russia. While the second theory has some validity and can be rationalised, what happens next is far more important and this event will have had little bearing on it, if any but I will not go into detail on this as it has little relevance as far as this article is concerned.
In recent years, Moscow has never hidden the fact that it maintains close ties with Tel Aviv. Yet, anything Russia does from now on, will be viewed with suspicion by a worrying number of individuals and groups. Russia is neither at war, nor adversaries with “Israel” nor is it antagonistic to any of “Israel”’s enemies. Therefore no intelligent observer should have been particularly surprised upon seeing Netanyahu calmly standing next to Putin celebrating the most important calendar day in Russia. Disappointing, yes, but surprising it was not. By the same token, and with the exception of China – Russia’s most important strategic partner, Moscow does not promote its partnerships either. To understand this, one ought to understand that Moscow’s geo-political strategies are not based on ideology, but on realities including trade, international trade routes, price of energy & other commodities, etc. All Russia wants is to enrich itself in a safe and prosperous manner and defend itself from any and all aggression. In order to achieve those things, Russia needs a stable Levant where it can have a permanent base on the Mediterranean. Those are also the reasons Russia has actively sought to strengthen its partnership with Turkey, not because Moscow has an emotional connection with Ankara, but because Turkey controls the Bosphorous and Dardanelles, and without Turkey’s cooperation the Russian navy would not be able to get to Syria or elsewhere in the region.
Russia’s job in Syria is more or less done. Its mandate was to fight terrorism, which it has accomplished. With the exception of a few jihadi pockets scattered in and around Idlib and in the south and YPG terrorists in the country’s north, Syria is more or less terrorist-free. So what now? What is Russia’s role, and furthermore, where does this leave “Israel”?
Contrary to what many believe, “Israel” does not fear Russia. “Israel” understands that Russia will not go to war with “Israel” for Syria, Palestine or indeed Iran. There are nearly 1 million Russian Jews in “Israel”, all of whom are Russian speaking, though not necessarily ethnically Russian, but all nevertheless from former Soviet republics. Russia will not go to war with its own. What happens next in Syria has less to do with Russia, but more to do with “Israel” and with how Syria and its allies Iran and Hezbollah manage the situation.
So far, the main reason “Israel” has not launched a full scale war on Syria is “Israel” itself. While “Israel” has all the weaponry it needs that could cause a great deal of destruction to Damascus at the push of a button, that is all the Resistance would need to launch its own counter-aggressive war against “Israel”. “Israel” can threaten all it likes to “assassinate” Assad if the Iranians remain in Syria, but it does not look as though Iran will leave Syria any time soon. “Israel” has implied that it will leave Syria alone, that it will no longer seek regime change so long as the Iranians are out. Objectively this is a major climb down from a regime that has historically hated the Assad family and spent billions on lobby groups and militias over the years in an attempt to oust them. But if Iran duly leaves Syria, will “Israel” stick to its vague promise? While doubtless Russia is the author of this compromise, the truth is “Israel” is not afraid of Russia, and so long as “Israel” does not touch Russian targets on the ground, Russia will not get involved and risk its own safety and security.
Whether Iran should stay or go is a point of debate, but for the sake of argument, assuming that Iran stays, which it most likely will, this will give “Israel” a good enough reason to continue to launch unprovoked attacks on Syria. They may push their luck and increase the intensity of the attacks, but they are unlikely to invade. It is worth remembering that “Israel” was at its most powerful when Britain and America were at their strongest, and when neighbouring Arab countries despite strong leaders like Gamal Abdel Nasser, Muammar Gaddafi, Hafez al-Assad and Saddam Hussein had only just begun to settle into their post colonial identities at great odds and under constant “Israeli” threat. The reality of “Israel” and the threat it posed had not yet sunk into the collective psyche, the people were not prepared for the level of suffering they would go on to experience decades later. But over the years, the Arab world has become more bellicose and battled hardened, Hezbollah being a prime example, while “Israel” has been weakened, internally and externally. Their nuclear weapons are weapons of intimidation, and while many like to be sensationalist to gain traction and speak of the “Samson Option”, that is unlikely to happen, not least because it would cause irreparable damage to the region including to “Israel” itself.
The Resistance forces are not afraid, but they are waiting for an ample opportunity to present itself in order to launch their own counter attack. While Syria is not intimidated by the customary random “Israeli” attacks on Syrian soil, one bomb in Tel Aviv would be quite enough to terrorise the people of “Israel”, most, if not all of whom have dual citizenship or easy access to dual citizenship. If that were to happen, we may see a large scale abandonment of “Israel”, a “country” at war with itself, hanging by a thread, with an increasing number of so called citizens alarmed at the growing violence and ready to flee the country. The problem with ‘Israel” is not that it’s sectarian, but that the sectarianism is artificial. “Israel” is the original mass immigration experiment, an exercise in multiculturalism, something that would be difficult enough to manage when it is indigenous ( as is the case in the Levant), let alone when it is man-made. The people in “Israel” are from all over the world, a multitude of languages is spoken, there is no unifying element, not even Judaism, as is evident by the way society treats African Jews who suffer constant violent attacks. It is not a cohesive, healthy society, but a jungle of various and often conflicted real and imagined identities. There is no loyalty to anyone or anything. So why would the “Israelis” give their lives to fight angry indigenous peoples? They wouldn’t and they don’t. They can only fight defenceless Palestinians, often for the sheer pleasure, and occasionally they try their luck with the Syrians. The last time they pushed their luck was in Lebanon in 2006, but upon cost benefit analysis, they decided to leave, defeated.
Russia will let the chips fall where they may – “Israel” and Palestine are alone, it will not be Russia, it will not even be the United States who will save “Israel” from itself due to their own strategic interests. While the United States is happy to go to war for “Israel” in oil-rich predominantly Muslim Arab countries which arouse little sympathy among Americans, how will it justify a war to ‘save’ “Israel”? It will not be able to use the “Freedom & Democracy” card. How will the US justify sending its own men to fight directly FOR “Israel”, a country geographically removed from USA, therefore posing no direct threat to USA should it collapse? Even if America decided to employ a lead from behind strategy including funding and arming proxy militants, at that point, all the bets will have been off, and the entire Shi’a world, and most likely vast numbers of Sunnis from outside Palestine, will have already landed in Tel-Aviv.
“Israel”’s attacks are not designed to start a war, but to intimidate others in order to maintain the status quo, in other words, keep Syria and Arab Nationalism weak, and contain Iran. However, there will come a time when the intimidation tactics will have little effect, and we may see an increase in intensity of aggression on the part of “Israel”, but it will be calculated so as not to warrant a counter attack. That said, the threshold of the Resistance could change at any moment.