For very different reasons and in very different ways, the governments in Tehran and Tel Aviv have expressed their approval for the new ceasefire in south western Syria that was established between Russia, the United States and Jordan. The ceasefire came into effect on the 9th of July although details of enforcement are still being coordinated between the three guarantor states.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi qualified his support by stating that such a ceasefire should ultimately be applied to all of Syria. Iran is currently the joint guarantor of de-escalation zones in other parts of the country along with fellow Astana Group members Russia and Turkey.
“The (ceasefire) agreement can be fruitful if it is expanded to all of Syria and includes all the area that we discussed in Astana talks for de-escalating the tension”.
“Iran is seeking Syria’s sovereignty and security so a ceasefire cannot be limited to a certain location…no agreement would be successful without taking the realities on the ground into account”.
In an extremely rare moment, Israel finds itself in support of the ceasefire, making Israel and Iran on the same side of an important issue albeit for different reasons.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated,
“Israel will welcome a genuine ceasefire in Syria but this ceasefire must not enable the establishment of a military presence by Iran and its proxies in Syria in general and in southern Syria in particular”.
He further stated that Israel will continue to,
“…prevent the strengthening of Hezbollah via Syria, with emphasis on the acquisition of precision weapons, prevent Hezbollah – or Iranian forces – from establishing a ground presence along our border, and prevent the establishment of an Iranian military presence in Syria as a whole”.
Israel’s perpetual excuse for its multiple illegal acts of aggression against Syria has been the presence of Iranian and Hezbollah troops in Syria. Both parties are fighting Salafist terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda with their Syrian partners. Both Israel and the traditionally Muslim Brotherhood linked Palestinian group Hamas have fought Syrian forces in the conflict.
Vladimir Putin stated in his press conference at the G20 summit in Hamburg that Israel had been consulted prior to the ceasefire deal. Netanyahu has now confirmed that he spoke directly with Russian President Putin about the deal as well as holding a phone conversation with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who was present at the meeting between Trump and Putin along with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
As The Duran reported yesterday,
“While grossly under-reported, Vladimir Putin stated that in addition to speaking with Jordanian officials, Russia also was involved in consultations with Israel prior to ‘shopping’ the ceasefire to Donald Trump. This confirms that the ceasefire, much like the Astana Memorandum which covers other parts of Syria, is essentially a Russian authored document.
Russia is in a unique position in the Syrian conflict in that apart from jihadists, it can speak to all parties involved. Unlike Iran, Syria and Iraq (a Syrian ally), Russia can speak to Israel, unlike the United States, Russia can speak with Syria and Iran, unlike Turkey, Russia can speak to the Kurds and unlike Syria and Hezbollah, Russia maintains normal relations with all states in the Persian Gulf and the rest of the increasingly irrelevant Arab League.
This gives Russia a unique advantage in the conflict as a power capable of brokering meaningful deals.
There is every chance that Russia told Israel to cease its acts of aggression against Syria in the Golan Heights and that it would be in Israel’s interest not to undermine a ceasefire which is to be police by the United States, Israel’s most important ally and chief benefactor.
There is also every chance that having heard this from Russia, Israel would continue to act unilaterally in Syria as they have in the past. It’s no secret that Israel not only disregards the sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries it does not like as it is true that Israel often acts against the wishes and better judgement of its allies and for lack of a better world, international acquaintances.
However, the fact remains that Israeli strikes on Syria have ceased after unremitting assaults over approximately a two week period. Israeli aggression has ceased at precisely the time during which Russia would have been speaking to Tel Aviv about the ceasefire. This gives one necessarily cautious hope”.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.