Israel and Russia agree to coordinate military operations in Syria

Haaretz reports: The Israeli and Russian militaries will form a joint committee to coordinate their activities in Syria, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and his Russian counterpart Valery Gerasimov agreed in a meeting in Moscow on Monday evening.

The committee, which will be headed by the countries’ deputy chiefs of staff, would coordinate both naval and aerial activities, as well as electro-magnetic activities, to avoid interference in electronic warfare, a senior Israeli officer told reporters.

“There’s aerial activities to the north of the country that may or may not overlap with the Russians’ activities there,” the officer said.

The two deputy chiefs of staffs are set to meet in two weeks, though it has yet to be decided whether the meeting will take place in Israel or in Russia. The officer said the frequency of the meetings would be decided later on.

​The officer refused to say whether the United States was briefed regarding the coordination between the two militaries. [Continue reading…]

In a commentary highlighted by the news editors for the UK’s Stop the War Coalition last week, Simon Jenkins wrote: “The only intervention likely to work in Syria just now is from Moscow.”

This is a sentiment which seems to resonate in those quarters of the anti-imperialist camp that still resolutely see the ills of the Middle East all rooted in Western interference.

Are we to now view Vladimir Putin as a peacemaker-in-waiting who will help resolve the worst conflict of the twenty-first century?

As Russia moves in advanced jets and deploys 2,000 military personnel to its new air base outside Latakia in the “first phase of the mission there,” what happened to the voices of anti-interventionism? As usual, the only interventions worth denouncing, must emanate from Western capitals.

The axis of foreign powers propping up the Assad regime — Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah — have a common interest, but evidently that won’t preclude Russia giving an occasional green light for Israel to bomb Hezbollah.

Still, I don’t imagine this turn of events will surprise anyone inside the so-called axis of resistance, because ultimately, each of its members has the same interest: self-preservation. Zionism — the nominal target of their resistance — merely provides a distraction behind which they each consolidate their own power.

In his meeting with Israel’s prime minister, Putin downplayed Netanyahu’s fears of a widening threat from Hezbollah by pointing out that Syria is in no position to expand the conflict.

“We know and understand that the Syrian army and the country in general are not in a condition to open a second front. The Syrians are busy fighting for their own statehood,” Putin said.

“Israel and Russia have common goals – to ensure stability in the Middle East,” Netanyahu noted, and as vacuous as that statement might sound, it seems true — depending on how you define stability.

In the eyes of many observers these days, the only reliable guarantors of stability in the region are its authoritarian regimes. Thus Israel welcomed General Sisi’s ascent to power in Egypt and likewise sees in Assad, a better known devil than the unknown or worst-feared alternative.

A region that has been ripped apart by the effects of decades of corrupt and brutal rule must now be protected by rulers cast in the same mold. But really: how’s that supposed to work?

Stephen Walt, whose anti-interventionism comes wrapped in some ritualistic self-criticism, remains convinced that a no-fly zone in Syria couldn’t accomplish much.

“Remember that the United States operated ‘no-fly zones’ over Iraq throughout the 1990s, and Saddam Hussein remained solidly in power until we invaded in 2003.”

True. But Walt neglects to note that the beneficiaries of one of those no-fly zones — Iraq’s Kurds — were, under its protection, able to establish what became and continues to be the most stable part of Iraq, notwithstanding the current threat posed by ISIS.

As much as the West has become afflicted by a loss of faith in democracy, a pervasive cynicism, and the sence of political impotence experienced by ordinary people as they witness unaccountable interests exercising power, the thing we mustn’t forget about our oftentimes sad system of governance is that within a predictable span of time, each of our elected leaders leaves office.

Consider, for instance, the battery-powered vice president whose destructive impact on the world is hard to overstate.

Dick Cheney might still meddle in politics, but having left office, he lost his power. No doubt it’s a shame that instead of getting thrown in jail, he’s still offered a podium to sound off as a talking head on cable networks. Even so, he and his neoconservative cohorts are mostly a spent force — as demonstrated with their failure to block the Iran nuclear deal.

The most problematic leaders in the world continue, without exception, to be those with an unyielding grip on power.

As much as U.S.-backed efforts at regime change have proved disastrous, that doesn’t mean everyone’s better off when such regimes are left in place.

If a remedy for cancer proves ineffective or counterproductive, the remedy gets ditched — not the fight against cancer.

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