Sunday, April 8, 2018

Assad Pushes Into Border Area With Israel,

With His Survival Guaranteed, Assad Pushes Into Border Area With Israel, Violating Accords

As the U.S. prepares to pull its troops out of Syria, Israel ought to brace for an ever-confident Syrian army whose actions close to the border are becoming a true cause for concern

Amos Harel Apr 08, 2018 1:44 PM

amatic things went down in Syria this week, while the people of Israel were distracted by the storm over the prime minister and his U-turn on asylum seekers. The survival of the Assad regime, with close Russian and Iranian backing, is looking like a done deal.

The week began with U.S. President Donald Trump uttering a remark that made his generals’ jaws drop: that he would remove all American troops from Syria.

The Pentagon is kicking and Trump has changed his mind before, but the likely upshot is that Moscow will remain the only power in Syria. Even the Saudi heir apparent Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman admitted this week for the first time, speaking with the Atlantic, that Syrian President Bashar Assad is there to stay — something the Saudis had invested billions (contributing to the bloodshed) in trying to prevent.

On Wednesday the leaders of Turkey, Russia and Iran met for a three-way summit. Israeli circles can hardly ignore the possible correlation of these things. It felt like a committee to draw up areas of influence in Syria, with the tacit acceptance of the Trump regime.

he beautiful friendship between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan begins with Russian acquiescence to Turkish attacks on Kurds in Afrin, north Syria; agreements for gas and oil pipelines to be laid down; speeding up the Russian supply of S-400 anti-aircraft missiles to Turkey; and even the establishment of a civilian nuclear plant, to be built by Russia in Turkey.

In other words, Turkey remains a NATO member in name only. In practice it’s approaching the Russian sphere of influence. And Turkey’s engagement in nuclear power could, like in Iran’s case, develop into acute interest in reactors for military purposes.

These developments have another effect, more local and immediate. Media outlets associated with Assad claimed this week that in early May, the Syrian army, backed by Russia and various Shi’ite militias, will be launching a combined attack on Daraa, in southern Syria, and Quneitra, in the Syrian Golan Heights, in Syria’s southwest.

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