The Russians have arrived in Syria. Because the United States has taken a pass on the unraveling of the world as we used to know it, Israel is making the best of it. Sometimes it is better to join them (to some extent) than to fight them, as the saying goes.
Over the past few weeks Russia has begun moving personnel and weaponry into Syria in an effort to prop up its ally, besieged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Russia is amassing a military presence, including deploying aircraft to a base in Latakia province. It has also sent fighter-bombers and ground attack aircraft, and is erecting a building large enough to house as many as 2,000 advisers in Syria.
The presence of Russians and the buildup of Russian weaponry has added to the complex and easily combustible situation on Israel’s border with Syria. Something Israel does not want to add into the mix is accidentally starting a conflict with Russia should Russian equipment or personnel become collateral damage from a mission to prevent the transfer of weapons to Hezbollah.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to Moscow on Monday, Sept. 21 to talk about Syria. Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin that he wanted to “clarify our policies” and to make sure there were “no misunderstandings between our forces.”
Netanyahu said that “Iran and Syria have been arming the extremist Islamic terrorist organization Hezbollah with advanced weapons, aimed at us, and over the years thousands of rockets and missiles have been fired against our cities. At the same time, Iran, under the auspices of the Syrian army, is attempting to build a second terrorist front against us from the Golan Heights.”
The result of that diplomatic effort by Netanyahu was the establishment of a joint military working group to ensure there were “no misunderstandings between [Russian and Israeli] forces.”
The effort will coordinate information regarding military activity in Syria, including aerial, naval and electromagnetic activity.
A U.S. official told Reuters that U.S.-Israeli coordination allowed the allies to share classified technologies for identifying Russian aircraft over Syria: “We know how to spot them clearly and quickly,” the official said.
Iran is in the region in order to assist Syria, which is no friend to Israel, and Syria is the main supplier of deadly weapons to Hezbollah, Israel’s enemy from the north. Also friend to Syria is Iran, which is Israel’s greatest threat.
This dangerous region continues to grow more volatile by the day. Everyone is improvising to fill the gap created by the absentee player – the United States.