Key line from a new article in The Jerusalem Post on the apparent denouement of the Syrian Civil War and Israel’s effort to enlist Russian assistance in securing its key strategic objectives in a post-conflict Syria: “Benjamin Netanyahu worked laboriously mobilizing all his influence in Washington to persuade Donald Trump to meet Vladimir Putin.”
This is not terribly surprising. And it dovetails with Adam Entous’s New Yorker article from a week ago which explained how the Russian collusion story fits together with other parts of the story focused on the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Israel. Israel’s interests are simple: a post-conflict Syria in which Iran has as little role as possible. No role is not possible. But Israel’s focus is to keep Iranian forces or Iranian proxies several tens of miles back from Israel’s borders at a minimum (50-60 kilometers, this article says). The other just as critical goal is to keep Iranian missiles and air defense systems from anywhere on Syrian soil.
To achieve these aims, Israel needs Russia. Entous’s article argued that UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israel each want a rapprochment between the US and Russia because only that will make possible or give Russia an interest in pushing back or restraining Iran, most specifically in Syria. Europeans fear, apparently correctly, that the idea is to trade Russian assistance with Iran for regularizing Russia’s gains in Ukraine and ending sanctions.
Whether such deals are possible, for the ‘why is this summit happening’ question, there’s one clear answer: the de facto alliance of Israel, UAE and Saudi Arabia have been pushing for it heavily.
Special thanks to TPM Reader JS for flagging the J-Post article to my attention.