ANALYSIS: New Situation in Syria is Bad for Israel

No longer hindered by a US presence, Russia, Iran and Turkey could make life very difficult for Israel on its northern border

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A week after US President Donald Trump dropped a bombshell by announcing he would pull out all American troops from Syria it is slowly becoming clear that he endangered Israel by making this decision.

At the beginning of this week, media reported the Russian army had begun to build a base near Al-Tanf the only American base in eastern Syria. 

US Special Forces are in Al-Tanf to prevent Iran from completing its land bridge from the Iraqi border in the Nineveh province in northeast Iraq and to train local Arab militias who were supposed to confront Iranian-backed Shiite militias in both Syria and Iraq.

Russia earlier made Israeli actions against the Iranian axis in Syria more difficult by stationing Russian troops on bases controlled by the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and by allowing Hezbollah to fly Russian flags on its bases in the embattled country.

The Israeli air force, nevertheless, struck Iran-related targets in Syria again on Tuesday evening by using Lebanese airspace to bomb weapon depots belonging to Hezbollah in the vicinity of Damascus while Newsweek claimed a high-level Hezbollah delegation was the target.

The Iranian outlet Mehr News later published a video showing that Israel’s actions in Syria have indeed become more difficult since the pro-Assad coalition changed the rules of the game at the beginning of December.

The video showed how Syrian surface to air missiles targeted the incoming Israeli projectiles while the video also recorded a direct hit and a huge explosion on the ground.

The new weapons bound for Hezbollah were delivered by two Iranian civilian cargo planes belonging to Mahan, a company controlled by officers of the IRGC, and Fars Air Qeshm.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) later announced it had been forced to activate its air defenses to shoot down an incoming Syrian missile while the Israeli military later decided to close the airspace above the Golan Heights.

On Wednesday the Russian ministry of defense criticized Israel for “directly endangering” the two Iranian planes and claimed Syrian air defenses had destroyed between 14 and 16 Israeli missiles which were launched by six IAF F-16 warplanes.

Relations between Israel and Russia have been strained after the Russians blamed the3 IAF for the downing of a Russian IL-20 reconnaissance airplane which was shot down by the Syrian military at the end of September.

Another problem with Trump’s decision is that he effectively encouraged Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stage another invasion in Syria and by doing so he strengthened the anti-Israel axis in the Middle East.

Erdogan says that Turkey will take over America’s role in the battle against ISIS which Trump incorrectly said has been “defeated”.

In reality, however, the Turkish leader will use the opportunity to achieve two old goals.

First, he will try to destroy the Kurdish autonomy drive in Syria where the Kurds have established Rojava, the two autonomic cantons which straddle the 500 kilometer-long border with Turkey.

Erdogan’s second goal is to embolden the Sunni Islamists in Syria which were on the verge of defeat and have been cornered in the Idlib province in northern Syria.

The hotheaded Turkish leader has turned Turkey into a Muslim Brotherhood bastion and dreams of the resurrection of the Ottoman Empire which included until the beginning of the last century the territory of what is now Israel.

For this reason, Erdogan is also meddling in internal Israeli affairs and is increasingly succeeding in influencing Israeli and Palestinian Arabs.

In East Jerusalem, for example, Erdogan is financing projects which aim to radicalize the Arab population and turn the Arab neighborhoods into Islamist hotbeds from where the Jewish quarters will be attacked.

Although Israel and Turkey have restored diplomatic relations after the botched IDF raid on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, which in May 2010 violently attempted to break the legal Israeli sea blockade of Hamas in Gaza, Erdogan behaves like an arch enemy of the Jewish state.

Just last weekend, de Turkish dictator reaffirmed his support for the Palestinian Arabs and claimed“Jews in Israel kick men, but also women and children when they’re on the ground” while he also promised a renewed Muslim conquest of Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu immediately shot back and fired off a Tweet stating: Erdogan—the occupier of northern Cyprus, whose army massacres women and children in Kurdish villages, inside and outside Turkey—should not preach to Israel.”

During a meeting with Christian IDF soldiers on Sunday Netanyahu was even blunter when he called Erdogan an “anti-Semitic dictator” who is trolling him every day.

While stating that the Turkish leader is “obsessed with Israel” he accused Erdogan of massacring the Kurds in the Middle East but also signaled an improvement in the behavior of the Turkish dictator.

“There has been an improvement. Erdogan used to attack me every two hours and now it is every six hours,” Netanyahu cynically said.

Under Erdogan Turkey has also become a member of the pro-Iranian axis which is increasingly becoming an existential threat to Israel.

Russia, Iran, and Turkey each have their own agenda in Syria but the fact that they have become allies and now don’t have to take in account the presence of the US army anymore is bad news for the Jewish state.

PHOTO: Israeli soldier guard a border crossing into Syria on the Golan Heights. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)


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