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Israel Opposes Russian Role in US-Russian Brokered Cease Fire for Southern Syria

Israel wants US troops on the ground in south-western Syria not Russian ones


Encouraged by Jordan's desire to pull out of the Syrian war, Russia and the US announced a cease fire plan for south-western Syria, that had been in the works for several months but was finalized during the Trump-Putin meeting in Hamburg.

But while Jordan welcomes the deal, Syria's other southern neighbor—Israel, which has been pounding the Syrian army over and over again over shells allegedly straying into Syria's Israeli-occupied Golan Heights—is apparently threatened by the deal.

The US and Russia announced the deal in Hamburg and the cease fire went in effect Sunday at noon. They have yet to work out, however, just how the cease fire is to be monitored.

The reason is that Israel opposes Russia's role in monitoring the cease fire. Russia has offered its military police as cease fire monitors but Israel's Haaretz is reporting that Israel told US officials they don't want that:

One of Israel’s main concerns is how the cease-fire would be enforced in areas near the Israeli and Jordanian borders and who would be responsible for enforcing it.

A senior Israeli official said Russia has proposed that its army handle the job in southern Syria. But Israel vehemently opposes this idea and has made that clear to the Americans, he said.

Israel would prefer to have American troops enforce the cease-fire in southern Syria. The Trump Administration is considering this idea, but hasn’t yet decided.

Moreover, Israel has issued a number of other demands for it to accept the deal. One is that the deal is separate from the Astana process which involves Turkey and Iran, that under the agreement the south-west is out of bounds for Hezbollah and other Shia militias, and that Israel itself is not a monitor of the cease fire:

Finally, staying out of Syria’s civil war is one of Israel’s red lines, so Israel doesn’t want any active role in operating or policing the de-escalation zones near its border.

What is good for the goose is apparently not good for the gander. What we have here is Israel which wants to stay out of south-western Syria (not that it would be allowed in anyway), but wants to invite the US to enter that particular hornet's nest for its sake.

Also we have the bizarre situation where a peace deal for southern Syria is hostage to its neighbor. A neighbor which already illegally occupies Syria's Golan Heights, but wants to take advantage of the situation to gain a US-manned buffer zone around its occupation zone on top of it.

Moreover, the hostage situation does not exist because of any real Israeli influence on the ground in Syria, but simply due to enormous deference of Trump administration to Israeli wishes:

Israel’s main interlocutor on this issue is the U.S. administration. The Defense Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces are in charge of the talks, but the Foreign Ministry is also involved.

A senior Israeli official said the talks are taking place in great secrecy and very intensively, including in the last few days. He said Washington is coordinating its positions with Jerusalem and presenting Israel’s views in its talks with Russia and other international players.

So to sum up; a cease-fire deal that could be a stepping stone to peace in southern Syria may go nowhere because the US so far seems to think a neighbor, which has fanned the flames of jihadi rebellion in Syria, which illegally occupies Syrian territory, and which extends al-Qaeda and ISIS enclaves in the south every possible courtesy, should have veto power over it. 


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