Alwaght- A trilateral meeting gathering together Israeli National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat, US National Security Advisor John Bolton, and Russian National Security Council head Nikolai Patrushev to discuss the Syrian crisis was held on 24 and 25 June in the Israeli regime.
The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was optimistic to get Russia to his side in the Tel Aviv push for its security interests in Syria including the struggle to confront the Iranian advisory and Lebanese Hezbollah military presence in the Arab country. But as it was predicted, the fundamental conflict of views among Washington, Tel Aviv, and Moscow was too fierce and deep that the Israelis walked out of it empty-handed.
It can be guessed that the Israelis and Americans offered to Russia lifting all sanctions خد Syria, Arabs normalization with Damascus, helping Syria improve economically, and accepting Bashar al-Assad as the Syrian president in return for forcing Iran out of Syria, despite the fact that Tehran sent its military advisors to the war-ravaged country at the behest of the Damascus while the US deployed its forces illegally, something making its measure an act of occupation.
But the Russian leaders during the negotiations, and even before them, sought to make it clear to the opposite side that Tel Aviv-Washington’s several-year striving to sow division between Moscow and Tehran, whose relations are witnessing fast advancement to the strategic levels, are of no avail.
Before flying to the meeting, the Russian negotiator in his meeting with Iran’s Supreme National Security Council chief Ali Shamkhani in Moscow told him about the topics of Israeli summit’s talks. After the talks, the Russian diplomat defended the Iranian-Russian alliance and told the press that the two allies have taken joint measures in the fight against terrorism.
The Russian official’s comments came frustrating to Netanyahu who last week said that Iran will top the negotiations with the Russian senior diplomat. This was when Patrushev insisted that the key point for talking will be the fight against terrorism in Syria. Earlier, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denied any agreement with the Americans and Israelis on the Iranian withdrawal from Syria. He added that the Russian presence is with the Syrian government’s agreement. He said the same about Iran, adding that Tehran is fighting foreign-backed terrorists there and deployed its forces after an invitation by Damascus.
In fact, Russia is aware that Iran’s military presence in Syria is a guarantor of the status quo, namely saving the recaptured territory from the militias, and the movement towards the final goal of ending the devastating crisis, now in its ninth year.
But why did the Russians take part in the negotiations while they were aware of the Israeli and American demands for Iranian pullout of Syria?
First, we need to know that the Russians see it unavoidable to keep the door open to diplomacy while practically fighting a host of terrorist groups on the Syrian soil. They take advantage of this tactic to thwart the heavy media propaganda launched against their anti-terror military campaign by the Western media. Additionally, the Russians have several times asserted that the foreign withdrawal from Syria does not include the Iranian forces because they are invited by the Syrian government.
Second, another important issue is that Russia struggles to save a friendly relationship with the Israeli regime by preventing the Syrian case from damaging Moscow-Tel Aviv ties. In his press conference with the Israeli PM, Patrushev highlighted the need for regional stability and added that the Israeli security is important for Russia as some two million of the Israeli citizens are of Russian descent. The Russian Jews in Israeli regime have grown serious worries about the Syrian crisis and called for Russia’s help. By participating in such meetings, Russia passes the message to them that it cares about their worries. Patrushev further said that Moscow was aware of the Russian security obsessions and hoped all of the risks to be removed.
Third, Russia wants to prevent a direct encounter of Iran and its allies with the Israelis as much as possible. The country is a party to the de-escalation zones agreement signed with the US and Jordan in July and November 2017. Euronews broadcaster in May 2018 reported that the Israelis want Iran and its regional allies to stay 60 kilometers away from the Golan Heights, a Syrian territory occupied by the Israeli regime since 1967, the year of Six-day Arab-Israeli war. Netanyahu repeatedly in his talks with the Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Moscow to press its allies to keep away from the occupied territory.