Is Putin Ready to Throw Iran Under the Bus?

The announcement that Prime Minister Netanyahu and Russia’s President Putin are set to meet this Wednesday the 23rd of August in the Russian resort city of Sochi doesn’t seem to stand out as significant.  Afterall, the two men meet every few months to prevent any friction between their countries.

So what makes this meeting so different?

In the span of time between the their last face to face meeting, President Donald Trump acquiesced to allow Russian armed observers to man the borders of Israel and Jordan.  This was under the guise of ensuring a ceasefire between the Syrian regime and rebel forces. Although there were some rocky first moments, the plan has brought a modicum of quiet to the areas in question.

The challenge for Israel has been what the Syrian Regime and Iran are using the “ceasefire” for. It has become clear that Iran and Syria are seeking near control of the Golan border area.  This they have accomplished by way of their Russian allies.

What’s Next for Iran and Russia?

The prevailing assumption has been that Putin would give Iran enough of a leash to clear out the rebels in Syria, but not enough for either Iran or Syria to be dominant in the Levant without the go ahead from Russia.  While it is important to understand that any overt alliance puts Israel’s security at risk, the now quarterly meetings between Bibi and Putin mitigated much of this. Of course, all of this depends on Putin holding Iran and Syria back from placing game changing forces on the Syrian side of the Golan.

Iran and Russia have a working understanding that Iran can do what is necessary to clear the rebels and ISIS out, but given Putin and Bibi’s deconfliction understandings anything else would be deemed an abrogation of the working agreement between Tehran and Moscow.  The ceasefire agreement between Trump and Putin made during the G20 Summit is a good test of this.  For the first time Russia would open a corridor for Iranian troops to move right up to the Golan, yet the actual movement of those troops negates the deconfliction strategy with Israel.

Up until now Russia has allowed the IAF to strike where it needs to against Iran. More than that, sources tell us that Putin even relays targeting information personally to Bibi.  Iran and Syria maybe allowed utilize the ceasefire to move troops to the Golan, but if the past is any kind of predictor then they are on their own.

While most pundits believe these sorts of actions will eventually spell the end of the Iranian-Russian Alliance this is more of the same for Putin.  He relishes in playing multiple sides of each other in order to effectively control the situation.

Reaffirming the Deconfliction Understandings and More…

Bibi’s trip to Moscow is more about reaffirming the deconlfiction understandings in light of the new reality of Russia’s troops now manning the Golan border. Russia has no interest in allowing Iran to attack Israel, which would fully destabilize the region.  Putin wants recognition by Israel that Russia is the new player in the Levant and that it Israel will have to reevaluate how it relates to the fast changing Middle East.

Putin will keep allowing Israel to attack Iranian and Syrian targets. In Putin’s grand strategy this keeps the region in balance while he continues to take more and more control.

As America continues to minimize its overt involvement in the Middle East, the vacuum created is leading to a new order with its strings more or less being pulled by Moscow.

Israel’s goal is to hold onto to its security independence while treading carefully though a new Middle East.


Can Russia Be Trusted?

The deconfliction mechanism that had been hailed as a stroke of geopolitical genius from the brain of Bibi Netanyahu seems to be a double edge sword. It is a sour pill that keeps on getting worse.  Especially now that Hezbollah is exploiting the agreement to prepare a forward attack on Israel’s North. It is true that Russia would prefer not to have an Israel that feels so threatened it destabilizes the Levant, but like I have insisted for a while, Putin is far more a tactical player when dealing opposing forces he wants to utilize in his broader strategy.

For Putin those that deserve his help are those that perform.  Israel will have to deal with an Iranian backed militia with free reign to attack, while delicately placating the Russian Bear who seems to be bending the rules of the deconfliction mechanism each week.

Trusting Putin is Mistake

The Israeli government has consistently made the same mistake throughout the decades.  It struggles to find players it feels it can put its trust in and by providing more assistance than anyone else it believes there will be reciprocity.

During the Cold War this strategy worked, simply because the tectonic plates of geopolitics demanded that it worked, but now in a multipolar world, putting trust in one country or another without strong leverage is a mistake.

Although Putin is a strong man, Israel is just another piece on his chessboard. Nothing should prove this more than Putin forcing us into a corner through niceties while Hezbollah and Iran have been able to build up on Israel’s borders.  It’s true Putin has allowed the Israeli Air force to attack arms convoys heading to Hezbollah. It is striking that the IAF did not attack in the latest skirmish, but rather Israel resorted to pounding the area with artillery.  This can only mean one thing.  Russia is holding Israel back from taking clear steps against Hezbollah.

Trust Only in G-d

Israel’s government needs to rely only on themselves and their faith in the Almighty  All else will fall into place.  The miracles that accompanied the Jewish people back to their Land are clear. If the Nation will increase their belief and trust in the Almighty as they did in the past then nothing will harm them.  Unfortunately the government seems to only mention themselves in reference to the situation without attribution to a higher power.

In the coming months the situation will continue to deteriorate. The question is who will stand up and lead Israel to victory.

Israel Behind the News [Dec 27, 2015]

Israel strikes Hezbollah targets in Syria

The deconfliction mechanism seems to be in effect as Israel continues to be aloud to attack Hezbollah with impunity. As we have noted before, this serves Russia’s interests by keeping Iran and its client groups in check. The question remains though, at what juncture does this sort of thing get in the way of Putin’s Syria strategy or what happens if the deconfliction mechanism fails?

ISIS Leader directly threatens Israel

Although Russia is destroying ISIS throughout Syria, the leader of the Caliphate El-Baghdadi saw the need to reassert himself into the geopolitical situation by threatening Israel.  Don’t expect direct attacks yet, but using Israel to rally Jihadists from around the world is a clever strategy.  It also means that those who oppose El-Baghdadi are in support of Israel.

Yehuda Glick Next in Line for Likud in Knesset

Yehuda Glick, one of the leading Temple Mount activists is surprisingly set yo enter the Knesset if one more Likud member leaves or is forced to resign.  This will put Jewish prayer rights on the mount center stage in the Knesset, something the Prime Minister fears, but can do very little about.


The Russians Are Coming

Experts seem to agree that the world will look back at these years as something of a great transition. The question many people have is from what kind of vantage point will we be looked back upon.  The lightning fast pace of events in Syria and the rest of our region attest to a world that is rapidly transforming once again into a multi-polar one.

With Russia’s entrance into the Syrian war on September 30th of this year, the world closed the door on what had been known as the post cold war world. From 1991 until this year the USA ruled the Middle East by itself.  The Russians were nowhere to be found and now, in a flash they seem to be everywhere.

With the above in mind and Russia’s tactical partnership with Iran, it has been surprising to many observers that Israel and Russia are not only talking and implementing a deconfliction mechanism, but seem to be furthering their partnership in relation to Syria. After all, Iran has sworn itself to Israel’s destruction and is actively using the mayhem in Syria as well as Russian air coverage to move their forces closer to Israel’s border. So why such an open working relationship with Putin’s Russia?


Russian Detente With Iran is Just Tactical

Many analysts believe that Russia, in the long term, has no interest in allowing Iran to take over the Middle East.  Russia views its relationship with Iran as a tactical necessity to prop up Assad and destroy Sunni radicals. After this task is done, the experts in this particular camp believe their paths will diverge.  

If this is so, then logic lends itself to believe Putin wants relationships and long term strategic partnerships with countries that are not only stable, but also share similar security and economic outlooks with himself, and yet will not step in his way. Israel is one of these countries.


“Israel is a Special State to Us”

In fact Putin has stated in the past his reverence for the Jewish State and his belief that it is a natural ally of his, as he considers it a special state. This is due to the 1.5 million Russians that live in Israel.  

A deeper analysis of early Zionism shows that despite the fact that Herzl is very much seen as the father of modern Zionism, the successors and thought leaders that drove the movement were really from Eastern Europe and Russia.  Their focus was on creating a Jewish National Movement within the confines of Europe and Russia, with a link to the Land of Israel. The movement, however, would push Jewish national rights within the Russian Empire. This, of course, didn’t get far as the ascendency of the Soviet Union forced these leaders to push for increased immigration to Israel.  Still, the Russian linkage to Zionism shouldn’t be forgotten, but rather be seen as a context to understanding why the current detente has more backing than an immediate need for deconfliction.

Then again, the same can be said between the millions of Christian Zionists in the West and today’s state whose rising leadership share an affinity with biblical values.


Economic Ties Between Russia Are Strong

Another fact is that Israel has a trade surplus with Russia as opposed to a deficit with the USA. In the new world of a rising East, this is meaningful to Israel’s position and future growth.  It is no secret Israel is looking East for new partners in China and India.  Russia’s trade with Israel is already very strong and will continue to grow.


Strategic Versus Tactical

As mentioned above, the maneuvers Russia is making in Syria and the broader region seem to stand in the way of Israel’s growing strength and influence.  

Yet, if one places Syria and Iran in only a short term tactical light, a strategic partnership between Israel and Russia makes full sense when connected to another burgeoning relationship; Kurdistan and Russia. Turkey’s aggression against the Kurds and funding of ISIS makes Russia, Israel, and Kurdistan natural allies against Radical Islam and an ascendant Turkey. The question remains though how much Putin and Israel can see eye to eye on the need for tamping down Putin’s tactical allies Iran and Hezbollah.



Despite some of my above assertions, we live in a world that seems to have become unhinged. We can never know which way alliances, partnerships, and working relationships will go.  

We are in a great transition period and Israel seems to be carefully moving through it.  Russia’s calculation may be different in a few days and their tactical need for Iran may outweigh the long term strategic value of partnering with Israel.  After all, Putin is a master chess player, even more than Bibi.

With that in mind, a regionally strong and globally ascendant Israel should not run to embrace a looming Russian Bear just yet. Especially a Russia that is purely pragmatic and whose leaders do not share the biblical values that have made Israel function beyond the realm of pragmatism. These values in many ways have made the dream of an Israel that went from persecuted to global leader a reality far more than the tactical pragmatism of Putin. We have to remember that as much as we want to be accepted by a strong Russia, Putin himself lives in a world of tactics and tactics can change if Mother Russia needs them to. In other words an alliance with Russia will only happen if it is good for Russia and its length will only last if it is good for Russia.

With this in mind it could very well be that the best course of action is to approach our new topsy turvy world with one giant deconfliction mechanism. Let the chips fall where they may, the roller coaster ride has only just begun.