The situation in the Levant appears to be spiraling downward toward full scale war between Iran’s Syrian and Hezbollah allies and Israel. Tel Aviv has cited an Iranian military presence in the war-torn nation as a pretext to launch continuous attacks. Not only Israel’s Air Force but the Iron Dome defense system and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) artillery were engaged after the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) retaliated for multiple IAF strikes inside Syria last week.
The clashes initiated from the Israeli side, which the ‘international community’ aka the NATO/Gulf Arab states bloc blamed on Iran, came hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Victory Day ‘Immortal Regiment’ march alongside Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The symbolism of a Russian leader jointly commemorating the Soviet victory over the Nazis with the PM of the Jewish State was not lost on anyone, especially after a report in Izvestia that no S300 missile systems would be delivered to the Syrians (though this report did not rule out that the systems have been covertly shipped to the Russian base at Kheimmim for safe storage from IAF missiles next to Russian troops).
What quid pro quo between the two world leaders led to this controversial Kremlin decision was the subject of widespread speculation among Russia watchers and academics with an interest in the complex Moscow-Tel Aviv relationship. A bilateral engagement tested by being on opposite sides of the Syria War, yet (as we wrote back in late 2015) bound by shared interests in eastern Mediterranean pipeline gas, Jewish Russian re-pats returning from Israel to Moscow, and the Russian Orthodox Church’s historic role in the Holy Land. Due to the late and post Soviet emigration, after the three official languages of Hebrew, Arabic and English, Russian is Israel’s unofficial fourth language.
Photo of Syrian SAMs streaking across the Damascus skies, May 10, 2018 by 24 Resistance Axis