Putin – Netanyahu meeting in Moscow: “Your concern about Iran’s presence in Syria must be postponed until Terrorism is defeated and Syria is liberated”.

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By Elijah J. Magnier: @ejmalrai

Much speculation and many “positive outcome” comments were released about a “secret deal” alleged to have taken place during the meeting between the Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week in Moscow. The Israeli media described it as “successful”, like the last visits (three in the last six months). However, Russian sources say the opposite, despite the hints of positiveness Putin mentioned. These hints were exaggerated and interpreted by Netanyahu as “an achievement”.

Russian envoys informed the Syrian leadership about the outcome of Netanyahu visit, stating the positive points Putin granted to his Israeli guest:

  1. The Russian president received the Israeli Prime Minister warmly and emphasised the good relationship between both leaders. He said that he recognised the 1974 line respected by the government of Damascus for over 40 years.
  2. Putin said he “understands Israel’s concerns about the Iranian military presence in Syria”.
  3. Putin conveyed to his guest that any discussion about the Iranian presence in Syria will be postponed until terrorism is defeated in Syria, over the entire Syrian territory.
  4. Putin said to Netanyahu that he understood from the Iranians they were not interested in staying in Syria once the danger to the Syrian government is over and all Syrian territory has been liberated- to the last inch.

Sources within the Syrian leadership said the Russian President “was clear with the Israeli Prime Minister that discussion of his concerns are postponed until the dossier related to terrorism is closed”. “If terrorists hide in an Israeli controlled area (the occupied Golan Heights) we (Russia and its allies) will eliminate them one by one”, said the source.

Putin reminded Netanyahu that “allied forces are fighting side by side with the Russian forces spread over the entire Syrian territory. Therefore, Moscow is not in a position to ask Damascus’s allies to fulfil Israel’s demands and look after its concerns, particularly when it is common knowledge that Tel Aviv helped al-Qaeda and other jihadists, and supported the ‘regime change’ but failed to achieve it”.

The sources believe that “Israel is watching the military formations of Hezbollah, the Iranian advisors and their allies spread all over south Syria during the south of Syria battle. These are deployed in a provocative formation to show their presence and send a clear message to Israel that its menace is not taken seriously. The Israel requests for Hezbollah and Iran to stay 80 km or even 10 km away from the borders of the Golan Heights have never been discussed with the Syrian government, only exchanged in the media. Therefore, Damascus is not concerned to give any guarantee to Israel or look after its fears related to Hezbollah or the Iranian presence with the Syrian army on the battlefield anywhere in Syria. Damascus has decided to initiate the battle in the south with no reference to any international agreement (between Putin and Trump)”.

President Bashar al-Assad didn’t limit his provocation to ask from Hezbollah to increase its military formation in the south of Syria, but he gave it a substantial gift: two full containers carrying US 60,000$/each TOW’s anti-tank guided missiles, Milan French anti-tank guided missile, and other “spoils of war” collected in the south of Syria battle as a token of gratitude to his allies who had shared the same fate during the long years of the war. The west and the Gulf countries supplied significant quantities of weapons to jihadists and rebels throughout the years of the war. These have changed hands from al-Qaeda, to ISIS, and now to Hezbollah.

Putin, on the same day, received at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow the Iranian special envoy of the Leader of the Revolution Ali Akbar Velayati who announced a $50 billioninvestment in oil and gas. A real slap in the face to Trump, who had revoked the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s Nuclear Deal (JCPOA). It shows how solid is the Russian commitment to Iran and the fact that its presence in Syria represents a strategic relationship. It is a clear message to Netanyahu that he is not Putin’s “Golden Boy” even though he understands the close US-Israeli ties and how important Israel is to the United States.

Israel knows it has lost the war against Assad and therefore it is trying to come out with as little damage as possible. Netanyahu may be relying on the Helsinki meeting between Trump and Putin who both agreed on the respect of the 1974 treaty and line bordering the occupied Golan Heights. However, the Syrian government’s position doesn’t support such an agreement and its message is very clear: no Iranian withdrawal from Syria unless Israel pulls out from the occupied Golan heights.

This equation means the conflict between the “axis of the resistance” and Israel is entering a new phase. This may be just the beginning.

Proof read by: Maurice Brasher

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