Damascus (GPA) – Following another Israeli air strike near Damascus, Tel Aviv has now taken a clear position on the Syrian conflict.
After 6 years of alleged Israeli “neutrality” in the Syrian conflict, the government has finally announced a semi-official “red line.” The new limits Israel is placing on their neighbors own military matters is now clear: Syria isn’t allowed to place its own allied forces anywhere close to their border.
Israel has previously been fairly discrete concerning their airstrikes in Syria. But after yesterday’s attack on a military facility near the Damascus airport, they’re finally speaking up. What they’ve said however seems like a violation of Syria’s self determination and sovereignty.
Israeli strikes have previously focused on regions far from their border, in an attempt to “curb Hezbollah’s ambitions.” But this latest move was much closer to Israeli territory in an apparent attempt for Tel Aviv to make their motives clear. This is apparently part of the now public Israeli policy. Evidently made to keep their enemies away from their border as well as the occupied Golan Heights.
However, the problem with this policy is that Israel clearly doesn’t consider the jihadists in Syria as their enemies but is instead worried about Hezbollah, Iranian military personnel and Shia militias supported by Tehran. You may recognize these groups as the allies of Damascus (and therefore Russia) who have been assisting in the fight against violent takfiris such as the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
This new shift in policy may seem minor since what’s happening in Syria is already obvious to most observers. But it will still have a geopolitical impact. One major question is: what will Russia do?
Russia has already warned Israel about their strikes in Syria. Which have previously resulted in casualties from the Syrian military and several close calls involving Russian forces. Yesterday’s strike may also be poorly timed since Israeli defense secretary, Avigdor Lieberman, is in Moscow this week to meet with representatives from Russia, Iran, Iraq and the UAE. Discussing the fight against jihadists in the Middle East.
A statement issued after the airport bombing by Israeli intelligence minister, Israel Katz is also likely to make the negotiations in Moscow more difficult. Katz told Israeli Army Radio after the attack that “the incident in Syria corresponds completely with Israel’s policy to act to prevent Iran’s smuggling of advanced weapons via Syria to Hezbollah in Iran.” This is likely to agitate not just Iran, but also their Russian ally as well as an increasingly friendly Iraq.
Israel’s interference throughout the region where Iranian-backed forces are operating– at the request of the government’s they’re supporting– is likely to make multiple countries nervous that they could end up a target. Israel could possibly use this stance to target anywhere in the Middle East where they feel a sovereign country is “supplying Hezbollah.”
As a puppet of the US this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Except for the fact that it took Israel this long to acknowledge that they’ll operate wherever they please for whatever reason they see fit.
James Carey is an organizer based in Detroit, Michigan, founder of Geopolitics Alert, and an experienced analyst on Middle Eastern affairs with a particular focus on Turkey. He also covers topics ranging from Latin America and Asia to Europe. You can also hear James in his weekly podcast; The Left is Dead which he co-hosts with investigative journalist Jake Anderson.