Skip to comments.Israel lays down red lines for postwar relations with Syria
Posted on 07/05/2018 1:28:31 PM PDT by BBell
As Syrian government forces press on with a furious offensive against rebel-held areas in the country's south, Israel is quietly acknowledging that President Bashar Assad's forces will soon be on its doorstep, laying down red lines for postwar relations with the Syrian leader.
Israel's main concern is to keep archrival Iran, an Assad ally, as far away from its border as possible along with its proxy, the Lebanese militia Hezbollah.
"Our demand is that the Iranian forces will go out or withdraw from Syria as a whole, and in it specifically southwest Syria," said a senior Israeli military official.
It is a turnaround from a few years ago, when Israeli leaders were publicly predicting Assad's overthrow and some voices even mused about peace with a future democratic Syria.
While carefully refusing to take sides in the Syrian civil war, Israel offered humanitarian assistance to rebels, and it has made a public show of taking in several thousand wounded Syrians for medical treatment.
But there is a sense now in Israel, as in parts of the West, that despite Assad's vicious conduct of the war with hundreds of thousands killed and millions forced from their homes his survival may be a less bad outcome than a takeover of Syria by Islamic militants who emerged over time as his most potent rivals.
Israeli leaders have sent a series of messages making clear that they expect Assad and his Iranian-backed allies to honor a decades-old agreement that sets out a demilitarized zone along the frontier and limits the number of forces each side can deploy within 25 kilometers (15 miles) of the zone.
"We have a Separation of Forces Agreement with Syria from 1974," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared this week.
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Assad is “creating facts” on the ground, as the Israelis used to say.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, Russia's Vladimir Putin and Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan meet in Sochi, Russia November 22, 2017. (photo credit: SPUTNIK/MIKHAIL METZEL/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS)
The Three Amigos
Yes, they had that agreement, and it held for many years. But now, after an attempt at an armed overthrow of the Syrian govt, we are in a different situation. The Israelis were confident that the Syrian government would fall. They even announced this was imminent, several times.
Whatever happens, there will be no return to the past. There never is.