Why Russia remains neutral in the conflict between Israel and Iran-By Gilles Murciano
In the confrontation between Israel and Iran, Syria is becoming the arena of military operations. On whose support can count Tel Aviv, Gilles Murciano the expert on the Middle East expressed.
The confrontation between Israel and Iran has seriously worsened after last weekend, an Iranian drone, launched from Syria, invaded Israel’s airspace. On the same day, the Israeli Air Force destroyed the Iranian control center for unmanned aerial vehicles in Syria.
In response, the Syrians launched anti-aircraft missiles on Israeli fighters. One plane was shot down , the pilots had to catapult. After that, Israeli aviation struck a blow at 12 Syrian and Iranian military facilities located in Syria. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the country will continue to resolutely stop any attempts to violate Israeli sovereignty.
DW asked the expert on the Middle East, the employee of the Berlin Foundation “Science and Politics” Gilles Murciano about the possibility of an open military confrontation between Israel and Iran, the role of Syria in this conflict and the attitude of Russia and the United States to it.
DW: Monsieur Murciano, Israel destroyed the Iranian control point for unmanned aircraft in Syria, the Syrian air defense forces shot down an Israeli fighter. It seems that Syria is becoming the arena of military operations in the open confrontation between Israel and Iran.
Gil Murciano : The chaos of the civil war in Syria is gradually being transformed into a new order, and Iran is trying to capitalize on this and at the same time strengthen its influence in the region. Tehran wants to build naval and air military bases in Syria and strengthen Lebanese Hezbollah.
The Israeli government, in turn, decided not to interfere in the situation in Syria during the period of chaos there, and now he has to face a new state of affairs in which Tel Aviv takes a less advantageous strategic position. Israel was separated for the first time from its sworn enemy of Iran only by the border with Syria, while Tehran is going to turn Syria into a kind of military base for operations against Israel. So the Israeli government is now completely changing its policy and is ready to take much more risks in order to stop this dynamic of events.
– Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not rule out further military actions . How far can Israel go?
“ Until now, the Israelis have always tried to avoid direct confrontation with Tehran. Now the situation has worsened. Last weekend, Israel demonstrated its readiness to attack the Iranian armed forces. Thus, the probability is growing that this vicious circle of military attacks and retaliatory measures will lead to an open escalation. From the Israeli point of view, the question is not whether escalation will move to the next level, but only when it happens.
– What is the strength of the armed forces in Syria, which are under the control of Iran ?
– The number of pro-Iranian militarized formations in the territory of Syria ranges from 7 to 10 thousand people. Here I would add a few hundred Iranian instructors from the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and its special forces Al-Quds. But, first of all, Israel is concerned about the re-distribution of power in Syria between Iran and the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Before the civil war, the Syrian government could control the level of Iran’s influence in the country. At the moment, the political survival of the Assad regime depends on Iran. Therefore, Tehran can promote its own interests: build military bases on Syria for further military operations against Israel, integrate the Iranian military into the structures of the Syrian army, and then move to the Israeli border in their composition.
” But is the Assad government really ready to allow Iran to wage war against Israel from the territory of Syria?”
– Sometimes it seems that Iran and the Assad regime speak the same language. But if you look closely, there certainly are differences between them. A few months ago, one of the leaders of the Iranian General Staff arrived in Syria with a number of demands concerning sectors of the economy and security. This included, in particular, the rights to extract minerals and uranium, as well as the construction of bases for special operations. All these requirements Syrians successfully blocked. In today’s precarious situation, the Assad regime seeks to avoid direct confrontation with Israel and to keep under control the influence of Iran. By the way, Russia does the same.
– How does Russia view the conflict between Israel and Iran?
– Moscow allowed Israel to airlift the Iranian bases in Syria, but it also tolerates the actions of Iran. In general, Russia is trying to maintain neutrality in this matter. Russia’s main goal is further support for the Bashar Assad regime and the strengthening of its own independent capacity. Moscow no longer strives for any victories in Syria, its current task is to minimize damage. I think that in the future the Russians will do their best not to join any unions.
– Can whether Israel in the event of a direct confrontation with Iran in Syria count on the US support?
– In the past, Americans played an important role in the Syrian and Lebanese policies of Israel. Today we see that the United States has given way to this arena of Russian actions. This is one of the reasons why Israel has been actively building diplomatic relations with Moscow for two years. There is no place on the foreign policy agenda of the United States for the Syrian question.