The Syrian army and the allies of Hezbollah and Iran are preparing to finish off the last pockets of militants and jihadists in the city of Daraa (the western part of it), as well as the Quneitra governorate, where the “Islamic State-Welayat Houran” (ISIS in Quneitra) militants are in control of 18 km along the 1974-line separating Syria from the occupied Golan. The presence of these terrorist groups has been tolerated and even supported by Israel in the last years of the Syrian war.
The next battle will be decisive in ending all pockets outside the authority of the Damascus government. Despite this fact Israel is still trying to intervene in the Syrian south, resisting any acceptance of the status quo: the years of war are over on its borders, and Syria is regaining the control of its territory. Actually, it is also the Israeli officials who are breathing their last in the Syrian war, which is nearing its end. What will remain to be liberated is the US & Turkish occupied North of Syria.
But the failure of the regime change is not hitting only Israel but the entire assembly of pundits in Arab and western countries. Daraa al Balad (the place where the first the slogan was raised in 2011 “Allawites to the coffin and Christians to Beirut” (Alawi ila al-Tabut wal Masihi ila Beirut)), has capitulated to the Syrian Army, who are in control of 85% of the province of Daraa. The Syrian Army is also advancing in ISIS & Huran controlled territory and is taking control of the high ground in order to pound the terrorist group’s position. The sound of bombardment is heard in the occupied Golan Heights, under the nose of the Israeli Army – which is incapable of changing the course of this next battle.
Sources in the Syrian capital say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow will only weaken Israel’s position, revealing not only President Putin’s intention not to meet the demands of his Israeli guest, but also that Israel’s reference in Syria, as it has not resorted to its traditional ally (the United States), has become Moscow, not Washington.
Netanyahu’s presence in the Russian capital – in parallel with the presence of the envoy and adviser of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati in Moscow – will only bring him back empty handed to Tel Aviv. Instead of presenting himself as a prestigious political leader “trying to score points in his favour”, Netanyahu is looking extremely weak, and also politically impotent. Trying to compensate for his diplomatic failure with Moscow by bombing the three abandoned positions of the Syrian army in Quneitra will achieve nothing. Netanyahu has only managed to appear feebler: he does not dare hit the Syrians and their allied forces (Hezbollah and Iran), in the presence of the hundreds of special units who are in the process of liberating the south.
Several days ago, Netanyahu bombed positions at the T4 military airport, sending his jets deep into the desert of al-Badiyah and towards Homs province. It is clear that he is aided by the American forces occupying northern Syria, who allowed Israel to use its military airports built in al-Hasaka province.
However, the first response Israel got came from the Lebanese “Hezbollah” which sent more special forces to confront ISIS in the Quneitra province. The Syrian Army and its allies are preparing for this forthcoming important battle once the 18km enclave occupied by ISIS is completely besieged. Therefore, before beginning the last battle in the south, the evacuation of all Jabhat al-Nusra (aka Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) and other jihadists and militants is necessary.
The second response came from Iran, sending a drone to penetrate 10 km into Israel. This act constituted a blow to the Israeli defences, showing their slow reaction and intelligence and military defence weaknesses – even if the plane was later shot down by a Patriot missile.
The bottom line: Israel has pushed Iran to violate all the “red lines” that existed (even if these were not announced and agreed by the parties concerned). Instead of the Iranian-Israeli conflict taking place outside the borders of Israel, the military bras-de-fer has moved into Israeli airspace. The Iranian and Hezbollah violation of Israeli airspace – unthinkable to any country or organisation in the Middle East – has become a regular promenade.
Netanyahu is begging the Russian leader – this is the third visit in 6 months – to prevent Iran and Hezbollah’s presence on the Syrian border. It is obvious that he has failed in his attempt, due to Hezbollah and Iran’s manifest presence in the southern battle of Syria. The Israeli Prime Minister will also ask Donald Trump to raise the same topic at the upcoming summit between the Russian and the US leaders in the coming days. But no great achievement in this regard is expected for the following simple reasons:
- Syria is determined to regain full control of its southern territories. Actually, the battle was imposed during the Russian-Israeli negotiations and President Assad is determined not to give up any inch of territory. Therefore, he has not succumbed to the Israeli threats.
- Israel lowered its ceiling of demands when President Bashar al-Assad helped remove Prime Minister Netanyahu from the tree he climbed by ordering his forces to begin the battle, imposing his own tempo and asking his allies to participate in the battle against Jihadists.
- Damascus does not meet all Russian demands, despite their joint military collaboration across Syrian geography. This difference has emerged in more than one battle in recent years, without necessarily causing any fundamental clash of interest between the two parties.
- Assad meets his Iranian ally’s goals and objectives: the two agreed on their common hostility to Israel without interfering with the good Russian-Israeli relationship.
- Assad will not abandon the “axis of resistance,” which has proved itself by its fulfilment of its obligations, supporting Syria with men and weapons. This “Axis” has always been, and still is, confident in the cause of the Syrian president, even though he almost lost the country in 2013. The advocates in this axis defended the Levant without imposing their faith or making demands on Assad in exchange for their intervention. Moreover, the members of the “Axis” gave complete freedom of decision to Assad to decide what he considered his priorities and objectives. They did not interfere in his internal policies and – unlike Russia on several occasions – did not stake a claim to the day when the Syrian President must step down from office (apparently to appease the West and the Arabs).
Israel is expected to strike again and to bomb in Syria, pretending to be relaxed and comfortable. In fact, Israel looks like a wounded bird hit by a hunter: it is dancing from the pain of leaving Syria.
Israel pulled out from Lebanon in 2000 unconditionally, and today it is abandoning its allies in the Syrian south, leaving these – as it did with the South Lebanon Army – without any support.
Israel contributed to the rise of the resistance in Lebanon in 1982 which gave birth to Hezbollah, the most powerful organisation in the Middle East, which now competes with many regular armies in the Middle East. Israel erred in supporting the jihadists in Syria and assisting the plan to overthrow Assad: it managed only to create a “Hezbollah-Syria”.
Syria has downed more than one Israeli jet; drones flew over Israel and rockets and missiles were fired at its soldiers in the occupied Golan Heights. Today, Israel is reduced to threatening any force violating the 1974 line – which has never been violated for the last 40 years.
Following 2006, Israel has once more been defeated, and in Syria. The aggressive stance it has used when claiming to “defend itself” will no longer be successful with an “axis” which is determined to liberate all Syria’s occupied territories… and in the Lebanon. It is now no longer be possible for Israel to use “the right to defend itself” as an excuse to do just what it wants.
Proof read by: Maurice Brasher
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About Elijah J. Magnier
Veteran War Zone Correspondent and Senior Political Risk Analyst with over 35 years’ experience covering the Middle East and acquiring in-depth experience, robust contacts and political knowledge in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan and Syria. Specialised in terrorism and counter-terrorism, intelligence, political assessments, strategic planning and thorough insight in political networks in the region. Covered on the ground the Israeli invasion to Lebanon (1st war 1982), the Iraq-Iran war, the Lebanese civil war, the Gulf war (1991), the war in the former Yugoslavia (1992-1996), the US invasion to Iraq (2003 to date), the second war in Lebanon (2006), the war in Libya and Syria (2011 to date). Lived for many years in Lebanon, Bosnia, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria. View all posts by Elijah J Magnier