Netanyahu in Moscow

Israel can threaten and posture, but it has lost its capacity to influence developments on the ground in Syria


By Abdel Bari Atwan

Whenever the Syrian army achieves battlefield victories on the ground and recaptures major Syrian towns or governorates, the Israeli leadership feels frustrated and disappointed. It reacts by ordering air or missile or strikes on some target or other deep inside Syria, so as to give a worried Israeli public the impression that it is still strong and retains the upper hand in the region.

Forward units of the Syrian army have reached the Syrian-Jordanian, and taken down the opposition flag that used to fly over the Nusayib border crossing. This mortified the Israeli leadership, and its subsequent airstrikes gave expression to the scale of its setback, its fears about the future consequences, and its confusion regarding changing military and political developments on the ground.

The latest Israeli air raid on the T-4 airbase near Homs was the third in as many months, carried out on the pretext of targeting Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah forces deployed there. The recurrence of these strikes confirms the important fact that the earlier attacks failed. They did not achieve any of their aims, and they encountered effective resistance by Syria’s air defences on all three previous occasions – though they did cause deaths and material losses as could only be expected.

The former commander of the Israeli air force admitted that Israeli warplanes carried out more than 100 air raids against Syria during his three-year tenure. But it is clear that these raids, employing the most advanced US-made warplanes, did not affect the Syrian state nor achieved their aim of demoralising its army or regime.  They have succeeded in emerging from the bottleneck, have managed to regain recaptured over 90% of the country’s territory, and are now preparing to wage the most important battle of all — that of reconstruction – and to open their arms to the return of millions of refugees and displaced Syrians.

For more than two years now, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman have been threatening that they will not allow Iran to consolidate its presence in Syria and use the country as a launching- pad against Israel. But these threats had absolutely no effect and did not intimidate the Syrians or the Iranians – as evidenced by the steady advance of the Syrian army on the south-western front backed by Iranian and Hezbollah units.

If Netanyahu was were really capable to carrying out his threats to destroy Iran’s military presence in Syria, why did he head to Moscow again on Wednesday for the third time this year to implore Russian President Vladimir Putin to use his influence to help him achieve his task – and where? In a country whose army has been fighting tirelessly and relentlessly for the past seven years, sometimes on more than 70 fronts simultaneously, against major regional and international powers led by the US.

Israel’s air raids on Syria have ceased to have any real impact on the course of events in the region. Reports of these raids have become routine items published at the bottom of the inside pages of newspapers. Retaliation for them may have been deferred because of other priorities determined by a strategy that has proven its effectiveness on the ground, most recently in Deraa. But this does not mean that it will not eventually be forthcoming.

Syria, as we have said before and there is no harm in repeating more emphatically today, is moving with increasing pace onto the path of recovery — with a growing sense of determination, confidence, and faith in the prospect of a better future based on forbearance, forgiveness and restraint, hopefully leading to national reconciliation.

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التزام زوار "راي اليوم" بلياقات التفاعل مع المواد المنشورة ومواضيعها المطروحة، وعدم تناول الشخصيات والمقامات الدينية والدنيوية والكتّاب، بكلام جارح ونابِ ومشين، وعدم المساس بالشعوب والأعراق والإثنيات والأوطان بالسوء، وعلى ان يكون التعليق مختصرا بقدر الامكان.

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