Syraq SITREP 53: Can Putin and Bibi Cut a Face Saving Deal to End Israeli Attacks On Syria?

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 "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic took part in the Immortal Regiment March, part of the May 9 Victory Day celebrations, carrying portraits of heroes who'd taken part in World War II — in the case of Vucic, one of his ancestors. The two marched alongside Putin, who carried a portrait of his father, a war veteran. This is the first time foreign leaders have joined the event in Moscow."  "According to the press service, the man in the photo [carried by Netanyahu] is Volfas Vilenskis, a Jewish Soviet war hero of Lithuanian origin. Vilenskis fought the entire war, from its first to its last day, and was awarded the title of Hero of Soviet Union. After the war, Vilenskis spent his last years in Israel, where he published a book of his war memoirs and participated in Israeli veterans organizations. Vilenskis died in 1992 at 72 years old.  "Vucic reportedly carried a photo of his grandfather, Andjelko Vucic, who was killed by the Ustase, Croatian fascist collaborators with Nazi Germany."  Photo by Sputnik News, May 9, 2018: https://sputniknews.com/russia/201805091064304646-foreign-leaders-russia-immortal-regiment/

"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic took part in the Immortal Regiment March, part of the May 9 Victory Day celebrations, carrying portraits of heroes who'd taken part in World War II — in the case of Vucic, one of his ancestors. The two marched alongside Putin, who carried a portrait of his father, a war veteran. This is the first time foreign leaders have joined the event in Moscow."

"According to the press service, the man in the photo [carried by Netanyahu] is Volfas Vilenskis, a Jewish Soviet war hero of Lithuanian origin. Vilenskis fought the entire war, from its first to its last day, and was awarded the title of Hero of Soviet Union. After the war, Vilenskis spent his last years in Israel, where he published a book of his war memoirs and participated in Israeli veterans organizations. Vilenskis died in 1992 at 72 years old.

"Vucic reportedly carried a photo of his grandfather, Andjelko Vucic, who was killed by the Ustase, Croatian fascist collaborators with Nazi Germany."

Photo by Sputnik News, May 9, 2018: https://sputniknews.com/russia/201805091064304646-foreign-leaders-russia-immortal-regiment/

At first glance, the situation in the Levant does seem to be headed for the full on Israel-Hezbollah War that the Shi’a super-militia’s leader Hassan Nasrallah has been predicting for many months — along with Team RogueMoney’s Intelligence Insider ‘W’. The Israelis boasting about being able to hit the Syrians without Damascus being able to strike back is calculated to provoke Hezbollah. This is a calculated gamble -- baiting a militant organization with over 100,000 missiles capable of overwhelming any Israeli air defenses. It was Hezbollah in 2006 that gashed the Jewish State’s carefully cultivated aura of military invincibility after 34 days of fighting. However, the price of Israel’s threatened retaliation against Lebanese civilian infrastructure and the population in a new war would be horrific, hence Hezbollah avoiding full scale escalation.

Nonetheless, after the Trump Administration’s surprising turn from belligerence toward peace with North Korea, could we see an unexpected diplomatic breakthrough in the Middle East, with Vladimir Putin rather than Donald Trump acting as the peacemaker? Can Putin persuade Netanyahu to stop bombing and killing Syrian soldiers the Israeli military and Trump White House cynically claim pose an Iranian threat to Israel, in return for a Persian pullout from Syria? Could both sides just declare victory -- the Iranians over ISIS and assorted jihadists in Syria, the Israelis over the Iranians who allegedly dream of nothing more than wiping the Zionist entity off the map -- and go home?

Iran's Trust in Russia and China to Defend the Nuclear Agreement After the Unilateral American Withdrawal Approved Solely by the Israelis and Saudi Aligned Gulfies

After last week's strikes, such an outcome would seem far too good to be true. Especially in a notoriously treacherous place like the Middle East, after years of brutal warfare massively sponsored by outside powers -- including the Israelis -- tearing Syria apart. The Israelis' boasting about destroying a new Russian-made and Syrian manned Pantsir air defense system (which had apparently run out of ammunition) using a camera-equipped suicide drone added to the frustration many of Damascus supporters at home and abroad expressed in comment threads and on Twitter regarding Moscow's negotiations with the hated Zionist entity.

In our view, Vladimir Putin is leveraging the tremendous political capital and trust he has accumulated with his people as the re-gatherer of Russian land in Crimea and victor over ISIS (banned in Russia), seeking peace. Or in the absence of a general ceasefire, reducing hostilities between the Iran-obsessed Israelis and the Syrians. The SAA have been pummeled by IAF strikes for too long and finally received orders to hit back with at least 20 rockets fired in the direction of Israeli positions on the Golan. How many of the SAA shells hit their targets remains unknown -- Israel claims none of them did. However, the SAA's old Soviet SAMs upgraded by Russia performed well considering that at least 60 IAF missiles (not counting bomb-equipped drones) were launched at Syrian territory. Multiple of the older immobile S200 radars and supersonic missile batteries were knocked out.

Putin is not engaging Bibi because he is, as some detractors claim, controlled by the Zionist Lobby -- as Trump is said to be through Trump's Jewish son in law Jared Kushner and billionaire campaign donor Sheldon Adelson. Rather Putin is a realist, whose first responsibility is to 145 million Russians, and not to the Syrians or Iranians to fight some prophesied 'Gog and Magog' if not Armageddon war against a nuclear-armed Israel for them. Of course, if Russia cannot enforce any red lines against regime change as it did since 2015, Moscow would soon find itself without any allies outside of the Chinese superpower. Nonetheless, as V the Guerrilla Economist said on last week's RogueMoneyRadio program, in geopolitics as in serious business there is no room for emotions. Especially not for anger -- at a moment when so many lives are at stake and a globalist cabal is desperately seeking war as protection from an economic paradigm shift that can make their shadowy rule obsolete.

Interests are what guide decision makers, and men like Putin and Xi are far more patient than their (post)Western counterparts. The current cable networks fueled way of Trump-Bibi warmaking involves plenty of chest thumping -- while the neocons confuse any great power or superpower military restraint with weakness. The hesitancy of the limited U.S. cruise missile strikes compared to Israeli bombing and the inability of the Israelis to stop the SAA's liberation of additional territory south of Damascus, together suggest that Washington and Tel Aviv both fear the consequences of striking Russian personnel in Syria. Therefore the Israelis can bomb, but without committing ground troops and tanks beyond the Golan ceasefire line of sight, they cannot block the SAA from liberating more ground.

With this all being said, it remains a remarkable display of trust built up between the Russians and Iranians for years (including through Moscow giving Tehran a heads up warning about imminent Israeli military action last week), that Putin can host Netanyahu in such a public way, without a falling out occurring between the Eurasian allies (despite the propaganda suggesting Moscow and Tehran are at loggerheads). Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was sending his Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to China and Russia this week to strategize about a common approach to the Americans withdrawal from the nuclear deal. Given that Japan and South Korea are both major importers of Iranian crude, these Asian economic powers will likely also be on Mr. Zarif's itinerary or have their ambassadors/envoys hosted by Tehran's oil minister soon enough. Undoubtedly, further de-dollarization and expansion of oil barter, yuan or gold payments will be part of this agenda, with the Iranians gleefully trolling Washington about their dollar dumping activities while joining the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

The severe riyal inflation combined with 'the Persian street's hopes that the leading EU powers France and Germany will defy or at least quietly ignore renewed American sanctions mitigate against a major Iranian military response at this time. Instead we expect to see the same asymmetrical warfare of the type Hezbollah has so skillfully practiced via training the Houthis in Yemen. The Israelis of course know contrary to Netanyahu's absurd rhetoric comparing Iran to Hitler's Third Reich that the Iranians are not preparing for all out war with them, and factored this into their calculated Syria aggression. It is also a sign of American cognitive dissonance and Washington's determination not to realize it is being replaced as the 'honest broker' in the Mideast, that the U.S. networks downplayed our Israeli BFF Bibi embracing America's enemy no. 1, 'Vlad', especially in front of the Victory Day paraded S400 SAMs and road mobile Topol ICBMs built to deter NATO.

The neocons and the MAGA crowd, with the former suddenly gravitating toward the latter as President Trump announced the abandonment of the Iran nuclear deal, reconciled this bit of Cold War 2 cognitive dissonance by saying on Fox News that Putin fears Netanyahu. This is nonsense of course, as even the Israelis with their incredible chutzpah know better than to attack a nuclear power (they've only done that once, and that was a U.S. Navy rather than Soviet flagged ship the USS Liberty which was shot up, supposedly by mistake, in 1967). Since 2015, Russia and Israel have observed a tenuous deal: Tel Aviv does not interfere with Russian military destruction of its jihadi proxies, and in return the Russians turn a blind eye to Israeli strikes supposedly targeting Iranian or Hezbollah interests in Syria. Now that Hezbollah has withdrawn to Lebanon, and Iranian troops have allegedly been struck again and again by the aggressive Zionists, that deconfliction 'deal' is fraying at the seams. The deceptive use by the Israelis of American transponder signals, which increased the risk of an accidental Russian-authorized Syrian shoot down of a U.S. jet mistaken for an Israeli warplane, clearly irritated the Russian generals, tasked with above all with keeping Cold War 2 from going hot in the Mideast. Judging by the swift leak to NBC News, the Israeli action may have also irritated a few people in the Pentagon as well.

Syria's Response to Israeli Attack: Inadequate But Likely to Increase to a Certain Pain Threshhold for the Israelis if the Bombing Does Not Stop

As for the Syrians, according to longtime correspondent Elijah J. Magnier, Damascus generals if not the personally threatened with Israeli assassination Assad are determined to show Israel will now pay a price for aggression, with rockets and artillery pre-targeting what the SAA considers the enemy occupied (since 1967!) Golan Heights. While the Israeli and U.S. media coverage emphasized Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman's claim that no Syrian missiles or shells struck anything in Israeli held territory, the strict military censorship practiced by the Jewish State makes his boast impossible to verify. What we do know is that a significant number of the 20,000 Israelis living on what the United Nations still considers to be legally sovereign Syrian territory under temporary occupation had to spend a few hours in shelters until the all clear signal was given. This suggests that Lieberman's statement may have been false, and some of the Israeli facilities including an observation post near Mount Hermon for the highly classified Unit 9900 in charge of Israel's satellite and aerial surveillance were in fact damaged by Syrian rocket fire.

The SAA like its allies in Hezbollah knows the Israeli David is actually a regional Goliath, with massive superiority in artillery, tanks and airpower. The way Hezbollah adapted to this reality was by using 'shoot and scoot' missile barrages, anti-tank missile ambushes, and its ability to blend with the civilian population to defeat a numerically and technologically overweening adversary in 2006. Although the destruction of a Pantsir missile battery by an Israeli kamikaze drone has been a big propaganda coup for those denigrating Russian air defense systems, this reflects more on the hasty training of the Syrian crews and the lack of interlocking support -- whereby one Pantsir would 'cover' another as the crew drives to a camouflaged position and then reloads -- than the quality of Russia's newest military industrial complex products.

Furthermore, given the short distances between Damascus and northern Israel, there is little warning time for defenders facing off against low flying drones and especially, intercepting surface to surface missiles launched by the IDF against southern Syria. To survive, Syrian Pantsir crews will have to be extremely well trained and constantly on the move between potentially pre-targeted ammo stores to stand a fighting chance during heavy raids anywhere around Damascus. The inverse of course, is also true, meaning the best defense in 21st century warfare is still a good offense and the ability to deter the adversary through massed, standoff missile fire capability like Hezbollah, or Russia and China possess. The flight of an Iranian drone launched from the T4 air base weeks ago, which the Israelis pummeled several times in reprisals afterward, revealed Israel's own air space can be penetrated without too much difficulty. The Iron Dome/Patriot defenses are not foolproof, and it reportedly took an Israeli Apache helicopter gunship to bring down the slow and low flying electronic jamming pod equipped Iranian drone -- after the vaunted Patriot missile/Iron Dome batteries and an F16 fighter jet failed to bring it down.

It's also true that the Syrians do not need to match the IDF rocket for rocket to stop the Israeli attacks, only to impose a sufficiently high price in terms of disruptions to economic life and a few casualties for a small country acutely sensitive to any losses. This is what one might call a crude but 'good enough' deterrent. The Syrians have lost at least 100,000 soldiers and three times that number of civilians in seven years of hard fighting; in the absence of an existential threat to the Jewish State, Netanyahu cannot afford politically to lose 100 IDF personnel killed or wounded. Notwithstanding Israeli boasting about being a regional superpower, a country with less than eight million people crammed into an acutely vulnerable sliver of territory smaller than New Jersey cannot claim to be such. Not in the supersonic and soon to be hypersonic missile age or even just the era of cheap swarming attack drones.  

Hezbollah in particular understands these Israeli psychological and military vulnerabilities quite well. Elijah J. Magnier has written about this reality: eventually the Israelis, having made their point on behalf of the American military industrial complex that competing Russian SAM systems (at least the shorter range Pantsirs) can be overcome through swarming, standoff jamming and kamikaze drone tactics, will back off. Because if they do not, the costs in terms of IDF positions hit and or Iranian made drone bombers coming across the border to attack Israeli troops and power stations will start to rise. And the first hints of what the Israelis (and if they attack the SAA, American soldiers occupying Syria as well) could face will likely come soon in Yemen, where Yemeni special forces allied with the Houthis already have short range drones. Equipping these with cameras and explosives so that the destruction of say, a $7 million Saudi Patriot battery can be posted on the Internet will be a trivial matter for Hezbollah.

UPDATE 05/15/2018 12:30 a.m. EDT Hezbollah's leader has warned Israel against further retaliation possibly by his own organization or its Syrian allies if it continues attacking Syria: 

From RT: The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah has warned Tel Aviv against crossing any more “red lines,” claiming that the latest Israeli strikes on Iranian targets in Syria already triggered an “entirely new” stage of the confrontation.

“An entirely new phase” of armed resistance against Israel began last week, the leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, noted on Monday night, claiming that some 55 missiles – including some “heavy” ones – were fired into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights last Wednesday evening.

READ MORE: Iran has no reason to strike Golan’: Analysts dispute Israel’s ‘political’ claim of missile attack

While stopping short of confirming or denying if Hezbollah was involved in the attacks on the Golan Heights, Nasrallah did note that “this is just one form of retaliation for the continuous Israeli aggression against Syria.”

28 Israeli jets fired about 60 rockets in overnight strikes on Syria – Russian MoD

“The message was delivered to the Israeli enemy. It said that the era when you hit Syria without response is over,” Hezbollah's leader added in a televised speech.

Whether it's Israel or the United States working with its southeastern Mediterranean ally, the cost of even an escalated proxy war with Iran will be high. But don't take the Russian Analyst's word for it, check out what this Russian speaking former Israeli military intelligence officer has to say: