Is Putin a friend of Israel

Israel and Putin forge a new alliance

The intensifying ties between Moscow and Tehran threaten to disrupt the alliance between Netanyahu and Putin in the longer term. In Syria, Moscow not only supports the Assad regime, it also coordinates its air strikes closely with Tehran, which is represented on the ground by the Revolutionary Guards and indirectly by the Lebanese Hezbollah militia.

"Shiite Terror"

Netanyahu's visit to Moscow was therefore primarily about getting his ally Putin's conscience to the point of Syria. "We do not want the radical Sunni terror to be replaced by the Shiite one under the leadership of Iran," he said, according to the Interfax agency, and at the same time scattered Moscow roses in the fight against the terrorist militia Islamic State (IS).

Netanyahu's trip to Moscow was the first since US President Donald Trump took office. Both Putin and Netanyahu have welcomed Trump's election and hope that bilateral relations will improve. Israel expects full support from Trump in the implementation of settlement projects in the occupied territories, Trump's rejection of the international nuclear deal with Iran negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama coincides with the Israeli line that Iran - rightly - as a threat to its state existence identified.

Moscow, too, initially welcomed Trump's arrival downright frenetically. The high expectations staged, especially in the media, should soon subside if diplomatic successes fail to materialize. And in particular the conflicting interests of Moscow and Washington in Syria and the way they deal with Iran could prove to be obstacles to an imminent thaw.

In Jerusalem, the reinforcement of troops close to Tehran, especially on the Golan Heights, is observed with great concern. Netanyahu said before his visit to Moscow that his country was firmly opposed to Tehran “progressively opening a front” on the Golan.
From the Israeli point of view, the meeting in the Kremlin is primarily about two things: In the long term, a permanent presence of Iran in Syria is to be prevented. Putin should therefore be made aware of the "Shiite danger". After all, Moscow cannot wish for an overwhelming power of Iran or even a military confrontation with Israel.

Erdoğan also meets Putin

The coalition of the “reasonable” Islamic states in the Persian Gulf sought by Netanyahu could serve as leverage. Under this term, Jerusalem envisages an alliance of the Arab neighbors with the USA and Turkey - an axis that has the main goal of weakening Tehran's influence in the region. It is still unclear whether this daring construction according to the motto "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" can work. With the exception of Jordan and Egypt, Israel has no diplomatic relations with its Arab neighbors.

Moscow is on the longer side in Syria, but it has to respond to the needs of its allies. Especially since it is striving for global political recognition: an initiative for direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians has recently been launched.

The Middle Eastern round of talks in Moscow is already going into the next round on Friday: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected in the Russian capital. There is also likely to be a need for discussion in the Syria case, where the Turkish government is calling for the Kurdish YPG militia to withdraw from the Manbij region it controls. American special soldiers are currently trying to separate the warring parties by building a corridor, and Russian soldiers are also deployed here.

This shows the difficulties of the warring parties in agreeing on an order after the expulsion of the IS. Syria is once again proving to be difficult terrain for existing alliances, just as it is producing unexpected ad hoc alliances.

>>> Read more in our dossier "Who is waging war in Syria and why".