Trump Touts Meeting With Putin as Boon for Israel, But Was It?
Trump suggests he and Putin hashed out solution to Iranian forces in Syria, but was not forthcoming with details
The presence of Iranian forces in war-torn Syria was reportedly a major topic of discussion when US President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday.
And, according to Trump, the outcome of that discussion should put a smile on the face of Israel's leadership.
"We came to a lot of good conclusions. A really good conclusion for Israel. Something very strong," Trump told Fox News following the meeting.
The American also insisted that his Russian counterpart was a true friend of Israel, and of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "[Putin] is a fan of Bibi," said Trump, using the Israeli leader's nickname. "Really helping him a lot and will help him a lot, which is good for all of us."
For the past couple years, Israel has been striking Iranian and Iranian-linked targets in Syria with the tacit approval of Russian forces deployed there, which have until now turned a blind eye to the Israeli operations.
But, the Syrian civil war appears to be reaching its conclusion, and Iran's strong military foothold in the country remains. This, according to Israel, poses an unacceptable existential threat.
Iranian officials, too, admit that the presence of their forces in Syria is primarily to threaten Israel.
"Orders are awaited, so that… the eradication of the evil regime [Israel] will land and the life of this regime will be ended for good. The life of the Zionist regime was never in danger as it is now," said the deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), Gen. Hossein Salami, in a recent speech.
When Netanyahu visited Moscow last week, Putin informed him that the full evacuation of Iranian forces in Syria, which now number in the thousands, was unrealistic. Given that, there is understandably a lot of skepticism in Israel concerning Trump's more optimistic remarks.