Recruit Russia in the fight against Iran

By Ariel Bolstein, ISRAEL HAYOM

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with Russian President Vladmir Putin in Moscow Thursday takes place at an interesting time.

Russia, which has exhausted its military moves in Syria, is searching for a future strategy that will allow it to integrate into the world of U.S. President Donald Trump. Russia has paid a high price for its confrontation with the West. True, as a result of the United States’ geopolitical retreat under former U.S. President Barack Obama, Russian influence has grown on a few fronts, primarily in the Middle East, but this achievement is not worth much without American recognition of Russia’s new-old status as a world power. The changing of the guard in Washington provided Moscow with a unique opportunity to turn the page on its relationship with the West, but the significance of such a change would also mean concessions on its part.

It seems that Russia may meet Trump halfway on the Iranian issue. Russia did not have much in common with the country of Islamic revolution from the outset, and the collaboration between them stems more from a desire on the part of both countries to challenge the existing world order. Indications of Russia’s openness to the idea of turning its back on Iran have been noted on Russian state television. These channels are full of talk shows that focus on current events, and the variety of voices heard on them is effectively controlled by authorities. In recent weeks, these programs have raised the possibility of placing Iran on the sacrificial altar between Moscow and Washington, and this was received with understanding by a majority of participants. One must remember that Putin and as a result the Russian public are determined to witness Russia’s inclusion in the select club of world powers, but they have no interest in dragging others who also claim the crown along with them, and certainly not Iran.

From Israel’s perspective, Netanyahu is now the only statesman to enjoy the trust of and an unprecedented friendship with both the White House and the Kremlin. Israel has succeeded in preserving its interests in the tempest of upheaval in the Middle East, in large part due to the relationship Netanyahu has forged with Putin. The Russians have been forced to honor Israel’s freedom of action in the region and have come to understand full well Israel’s determination to act whenever Israeli considerations require that it do so.

In the Trump era, Israel’s stock has risen even more in the eyes of the Russians. Moscow could not help but notice the special affinity Trump has shown toward Netanyahu and the feelings of solidarity they share. Israel is clearly not operating within a vacuum — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Russia after Netanyahu, and later in the month, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani will do the same — but those in the Kremlin must understand the differences in influence among these three figures.

The possible resolution in Syria and its de facto division into regions of influence underscores the need to stop the expansion and strengthening of Iran. Russia needs to understand that Hezbollah’s murderousness and lack of humanity is no different from that of the Sunni terrorists it so mercilessly bombed. There should be one law for the Islamic State, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham — formerly Nusra Front — and Hezbollah. If Russia operates according to this principle, its standing and the security of the region will vastly improve.

March 9, 2017 | 10 Comments » | 49 views

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  1. Proxy-diplomacy today in Moscow! Also, the vote to advance Friedman as US Ambassador to Israel passed Senate Foreign Relations Cte 12-9, with Sen. Menendez sole Dem voting yea.

    Which indicates NO real bi-partisanship with full Senate vote. Sen. Cardin, d, MD, sides with J-Street.

    the psycho-drama continues.

  2. The lack of bipartisanship in the US comes as no surprize.

    PM Netanyahu certainly has raised the Iranian issue with Pres. Putin. Russia signed an agreement with Iran in 2015, which provides for

    ‘maintaining regional and international security and stability, and fighting against separatism and extremism,”‘

    “Fighting against separatism” should be taken with a grain of salt, seeing that the Russians supported separatists in Georgia and the Ukraine; and of course Iran itself is the foremost supporter of extremists in the world.

    It is possible that Russia and Iran will part ways in Syria (note the on-again, off-again Turko-Russian partnership there), if this furthers Russian interests. I would not call this a “recruitment” process. It would depend on how well Putin can deal personally with Trump. I believe Netanyahu is in Russia, largely, as Trump’s envoy.

  3. “The Trump administration has invited more than 60 nations and international organizations to Washington later this month for a strategy session on how to counter the Islamic State after a widely expected U.S.-backed military assault on the extremists’ home base.

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will lead a two-day gathering of a global coalition focused on fighting the group militarily and starving it of money, weapons and fighters.

    The session is an important signal that the new administration intends to maintain leadership of a sprawling diplomatic effort begun by President Barack Obama in 2014, despite Trump’s scathing assessment of Obama’s approach to the Islamic State during the presidential campaign.

    The March 22-23 meeting will be the largest since the inaugural session and comes as the Islamic State appears to be losing ground militarily.

    Russia is not a member of the diplomatic coalition, although it is a dominant military presence in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

    Trump has raised the prospect of the United States and Russia collaborating to fight Islamic State militants in Syria, and he and Russian President Vladi­mir Putin discussed possibilities in a phone call in January, according to the White House. But the issue is complicated by political fallout from Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said that discussion of any broad cooperation is premature.

    When hopes for the cease-fire were high, Tillerson had asked for an economic breakdown of Syria — how the oil, water and agriculture resources were divided in the country. The idea was that the Trump administration might be able to work with the Russians to carve out autonomous territories that could survive with little or no connection to Damascus, that official said.

    “You could have regions that would be able to sort of exist, and maybe they would not be in kinetic opposition to the regime. Instead there would be a live-and-let-live scenario.”

    But as the Russians have been unable to deliver on the cease-fire, such hopes have given way to more practical realities that the Obama administration faced, the official said. …”

  4. We should support Russia’s right to operate without interference in it’s backyard in exchange for ending its alliance with Iran.

    A liberal once asked me, “don’t I support the right to self-determination?”

    Well, it depends. I support the right to self-determination of the Russian Majority Crimeans to be part of Russia again but I oppose the right to self-determination of the anti-semitic Ukrainians, Poles, Lithuainians and Belorussians and all other former Soviet republics where anti-semitism has once again raised its ugly head.

    We should support Putin’s right to re-annex all of them.

    People who hate Jews deserve to be oppressed.

    People who kill Jews deserve to die screaming.

    Pretty much sums up the most basic tenets of universal morality in my book.

    Azaria deserves a medal and a promotion not a prison sentence.

    “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you.” Genesis 12:3. Should be a button, a bumpersticker, a hat logo. I’d wear it. All it should say is : “Gen. 12:3.”

    Says it all. Say no more.

  5. @ honeybee:

    Just google Ukraine and anti-semitism or Lithuainia and anti-semitism or Poland and anti-semitism. Surely it’s obvious that these odious flies deserve to be devoured by the Russian bear. But, we have nothing to fear. Only those who deserve their destruction and subjugation.

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