Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement, of 13 January 2019, (https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201901131071434981-netanyahu-israel-syria-attacks/) can only be read in the light of the continuous coordination between Israel and Russia, the last of which was reported as a telephone conversation between Putin and him on 4 January 2019.
It can only be concluded that any attack purportedly against Hezbollah or Iranian forces must be carried out with the full consent and acquiescence of Putin’s Russia.
This reality raised many serious issues which are familiar to the Arabs and brings back a parallel they had witnessed in the conduct of the Communist leaders of the Soviet Union at the time of Nasir. Between 1967 and 1970 the Communist leaders of the Soviet Union held the view that the Arabs in general and Egypt in particular should be supported with enough weapons to maintain their existence but never enough to challenge Israel’s military superiority which was being maintained by International Zionism. I am not going to analyse this issue here and now and show how misguided it was.
However, I would like to argue how misguided Putin is when he adopts a similar view regarding Syria.
It should be remembered that Putin did not have a conversation with President Assad after being attacked by Israel but rather had a conversation with the attacker, Netanyahu, to discuss coordination regarding the fight against terrorism. I think that stinks so much that it would be improper even to call it hypocrisy. You do not coordinate with another the fight against terrorism unless you believe that other is in fact fighting terrorism and not committing it!
Putin has created another insurmountable hurdle for himself when he adopted a new strategy based on protecting any Russian citizen wherever he/she may be. By that doctrine Putin binds himself to protect the 1.5 million Russian Jews who emigrated from Russia to settle usurped land in Palestine! It is not for me to argue why such a large number of qualified Russians should leave their birthplace and settle in someone else’s land. But Putin held himself prisoner to his new doctrine by declaring that he would defend his fellow Russian citizens even when they are Israeli. That would naturally put him on a conflict path with every Arab Nationalist, who takes just as much pride in his nationality as Putin takes in his.
We the Arabs have not chosen our enemies but they have chosen us. During the last two centuries, the Arabs have been subjected to an organized and continuous onslaught, the like of which very few nations had been subjected to, and for no crime or fault by them International Zionism chose to crush, subjugate and humiliate the Arabs. By deciding that he would protect the Zionist Russians in Israel, Putin has sided with Zionism by choice or default.
Putin ought to appreciate that Syria gave Russia its first ever military base on the warm waters of the Mediterranean. But he is misguided in his belief of the durability and value of these bases. It could not have missed the attention of any observer that Russia, over the last five years, has been behaving as if Syria was one of its protectorates. You only need to look at the conferences on Syria which Russia has organized or attended. None has been attended by a representative of the Syrian Government which Russian claims to be the legitimate government and which basic principles of International Law states that it should attend. Turkey, Iran, USA, Israel, UK, France, Germany, everyone attends but not the legitimate representative of the Syrian Government which is being attacked, according to Russia itself, by an army from some 100 states.
I am not naïve to expect that Russia should take on the US in its aggression in Syria. But I would have expected Russia to put an end to any Israeli incursion into Syria. Now that Russia effectively controls Syrian airspace, it is under a duty to protect Syria from any attack. To argue that it is allowing Israel to attack only Hezbollah and Iranian targets in Syria would torpedo Russia’s argument itself that its presence in Syria is within the rules of international law having been invited by the legitimate Syrian Government. The presence of Hezbollah and the Iranian is equally because of the proper invitation of the legitimate Syrian Government. The principle of sovereignty applies equally and universally and not selectively as Putin, siding with Israel, seems to imply.
A lot of noise was made when Putin announced that Russia was supplying the S-300 antiaircraft system to Syria. However, the implementation carries a more sinister message to the Syrians and the Arabs generally. The supply of S-330, in addition that NATO’s Turkey is being supplied with the superior version of S-400, is conditional on not being used against Israel.
The evidence is there to see. Since its installation S-300 has not been used once to stop any of the regular Israeli air raids. Had it been used then we would have seen its effectiveness or the lack of it. But more importantly is that, had Israel been told that future raids would engage S-300, it would not have sent its F-15 or F-16 to hell. The truth of the matter is that, since the announcement to supply S-300 to Syria, Israel was assured that S-300 would not be used against its raids so long as they do not attack clear Syrian army units. Other attacks would be accepted. The sovereignty of other states is not an issue for Russia when it comes to Israel’s activities.
Putin, like Lavrov’s advisers, and most Russian Orientalist have never understood the Arab psyche. I am more critical of my people than many Westerners. But I try to be objective as much as I can when it comes to being fair to my people. Ask any Armenian who fled Turkish persecution and lived among the Arabs, how they feel about the reception they received. The Arabs have demonstrated great tolerance to people coming from any part of the world to live with and among them. History tells us how Syria received 17000 Greeks from Asia Minor in its cities during the forced exchange of population between Greece and Turkey, as agreed upon under the 1923 Lausanne treaty. The Arabs gave the Jews of Spain shelter when the Catholics uprooted both Judaism and Islam. There are no Jewish ghettos in any Arab capital city but there is hardly a European Capital which did not have a Jewish ghetto.
The Arabs did not oppose the settlement in Palestine of Jews who were persecuted in Europe. They opposed Zionism as a political philosophy advocating the creation of an Imperialist Western settlement by force on Arab land. That was the situation in the 1930s and that is still the objection in 2019.
Anyone who does not understand this will be nowhere near solving then crisis. Israel is powerful and has a large arsenal of WMDs. But if that reality about the Arab rejection of forced colonial settlement is not fully understood then Israel will never endure. The USA domination of the world will come to an end like any Empire. Who will then provide Israel with the proper suicide dagger?
Putin is misguided if he believes that by controlling events in Syria he is able to provide Israel with the security it cannot have.
Putin is misguided because he should look back at what the Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat, did to the Russians. The Syrians may reach a stage in which they decide that any power that is not able to provide them with the proper protection and sovereignty is not welcomed.