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September 11, 2015 11:52 am

Israeli National Security Expert Confirms: Russian Presence in Syria Spells Trouble for Israel

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Photos: Wikipedia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Photos: Wikipedia.

“Israel has to worry about potential Russian deployment in Syria, because in the Middle East, if you don’t worry, you pay the price,” Dr. Dan Schueftan, director of the National Security Studies Center at the University of Haifa, told The Algemeiner this week.

He was responding to recent reports about Moscow’s stepped-up efforts to assist the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, which purportedly involve the dispatching of military personnel and equipment, for the purpose of setting up an air base in the area of Latakiya, which Assad controls.

More specifically, Schueftan was referring to claims in the Arab press indicating that this turn of events could mean Israel will be prevented by Moscow from conducting its own operations against terrorists over Syrian skies. According to the Beirut-based, pro-Hezbollah daily, Al-Akhbar, Tel Aviv “will face the predicament of a resistance region in southern Syria that has Russian cover.”

“There is a grain of truth to this,” said Schueftan. “The Russians have indeed stepped up their involvement in Syria to aid the Syrian regime. And since the regime depends heavily on Hezbollah, and since Israel and Hezbollah are in a permanent state of war, initiated by Hezbollah, Russian presence presents a problem.”

Israel, he added, “might have to fight Hezbollah terrorism [from the air, over Syria], or forcefully prevent the delivery of major modern weapons systems from Iran through Syrian into Lebanon. Israel has already, on a number of occasions, attacked such convoys without admitting it.”

Therefore, Schueftan explained, “Having the Russian military in the way makes this more difficult. Israel cannot afford to disregard Russian interests. It will thus have to consider whether and when each proposed IDF action comes close to the red lines Israel assesses Russia would tolerate it crossing.”

He then went on to answer his own rhetorical questions: “Will this prevent Israel from operating in Syria and Lebanon? Certainly not. Will it create constraints? Yes. But these constraints will be limited to what Israel assumes are the kind of extreme cases that would cause the Russians to take action against it.”

Asked by The Algemeiner for an example of such an “extreme case,” Schueftan said, “For instance, if Israel were to decide to bombard Assad’s palace and kill him, Israel should assume that this would constitute a red line from a Russian point of view.”

On Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon gave a press briefing in which he stopped short of openly echoing sentiments like those expressed by Schueftan. He did, however, acknowledge his concern over this development, while at the same time repeating what Russian President Vladimir Putin has asserted about the scope of his intervention in Syria.

“As far as we understand, at this stage we are talking about a limited force that includes advisers, a security team and preparations for operating planes and combat helicopters,” Ya’alon said, a day after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry questioned Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov about what appear to be serious military moves on the part of Moscow, involving air strikes.

Though Lavrov was evasive, and said the cargo being delivered to Syria included “humanitarian aid,” he also reiterated Putin’s comment last week that Russia was “exploring various options.”

Meanwhile, a report in the Russian press last week, obtained by Israeli journalist, Shimon Briman, and made available to The Jerusalem Post, said that Israel Aircraft Industry (IAI) drones were recently purchased by the Russian defense ministry.

According to Briman, an expert on Russian-Ukrainian affairs, the business newspaper in which the report appeared, Vedomosti, is generally reliable.

Though the IAI has neither confirmed nor denied the report, the paper said that 10 Israeli intelligence-gathering drones were bought this year, for the purpose of Russian surveillance of its borders with Ukraine.

According to a Guardian report in May, two of these drones were downed by Ukrainian forces – which was discovered from photographs of the debris, showing the words “IAI” and “MALAT [UAV] Military Aircraft Group.”

The Jerusalem Post article on this revelation further claimed that previous military transactions with Russia, such as the sale of Israeli drones in 2011, suggested that through these deals, Israel would gain “an avenue of influence as a means to reduce the chances of Russia selling advanced weapons to Iran, the Assad regime and Hezbollah.”

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  • Theodore L. Crawford

    Possible scenario: Russia buys Israeli drones, copies them, and uses the copies against Israel. I remember reading that Putin met with Abbas in Beit Lechem a couple years ago. Subsequently, Russia announced a policy of 100% support for the Palestinian cause. According to ancient prophecy, the land of Israel will be the venue for a massive slaughter of Russian troops by Divine Intervention.

    It’s beginning…

  • ironbutterfly

    why is it that israel has to worry ??????
    how about endless american terrorism in middle east, supporting first A-Qaeda, which was created by CIA in the first place ?
    How about ISIS, which is also created by US to destroy Syria, to create a “new” Middle East, and flood europe with refugees ??? Pure terrorism.
    Why israel then is not worried about ISIS ?
    Israel was supporting the so called syrian “rebels”, hoping to take down assad. What a disappointment, it didn’t work out. So who is israel’s “friends” now in syria ? Nobody ?
    Russia in Syria to annihilate ISIS, the american creation. That’s why US is so “worried”.
    And why israel is worried ? Is it because israel has part in ISIS creation ?

    • jeremy

      Quite a bit of simplistic misinformation and outright lies there.

      Translation Jews must be responsible for all bad things even if it goes against everything they are. If not Jews are most definitely responsible.

      ISIS is another name for Sharia Law in action, period.

  • Isreal should stop worrying about what the world thinks and kill all these bastards that are destorying the people of Isreal. Look how you have to live in fear every day. An eye for an eye. Even GOD knows we are the chosen people. Im 61 years old live in America all my life all I hear is kill the jews well enough wipe them off the face of the earth once in for all. who cares what the world thinks if your dead its over stop the political correctness and do what needs to be done to protect our people once in for all. GOD will protect us. WE are the chosen people. do not ever for this

    • mary daly

      Dennis its all well and good you saying god will protect yous especially when you live in the U.S. you keep saying yous are the chosen people well I think thats a matter of opinion you say an eye for an eye tell that to the thousands of Palestinians that have been murdered hundreds of whom were children it may be easy for you to say an eye for an eye but it wont be you living under the flight of the bomb if you believe that god will protect because yous are the chosen why dont you move to Israel and be with the chosen bibi is calling on all jews to move to their motherland am sure you will be welcomed just a thought

      • jeremy

        youre a brainwashed fool. who has no knowledge of context because your mind is controlled by antisemitism and lies and has for many generations, just a thought..

  • Thats third ww111.

  • Isaac Semaya

    With the development of Russian troops in Syria It is time for Israel to stop selling drones to Russia.

    • jeremy

      they dont need them, their scientists have the innards now.

  • steven L

    USSR is in Syria for protecting Assad first and foremost and Iran second. Combating ISIS is an illusion!
    So far the BHO Adm has given “carte blanche” to the KGB.

  • First of all, its a great mistake, colling the Iranian Deal Obama’s victory. It is Putin’s victory and you soon will be witnesses what happens next. Such a deal is good for a normal country, e.g. North Korea, but not Iran, who is now a puppet of Russia. The deal matters only $150 B that will be released by lifting sanctions. All others are masquerade and lie. But more: what may be in the very next future and is already starting now?

    Since long ago (as the author noticed), Putin’s Russia has been involved in Syrian war, of course not on the side of the USA against ISIS (as some people think), Al-Baghdadi is a Putin’s man. But it was mostly military advisers. But, now Russia pulled into Syria a huge arsenal of heavy weapons, infantry, tanks, aircrafts and of course powerful anti-aircrafts systems. There would be build a military base and made a strategic alliance with Tehran and Assad. It will be a big challenge for NATO and may be a very dangerous confrontation with the USA, not only with Israel, who I guess doesn’t quite understand who is its main enemy. Putin’s aim is to make Russia’s way to the Mediterranean and then to the Europe. It would be an inevitable big and devastating war. The $150 B will be a good help. It’s too early for American democrats, to enjoy the Deal. (in spite of John Kerry’s, -the worst politician in the USA,- stupid words: “Russia is no more a threat”. But what is fully ridiculous is a selling by Israel weapon TO Russia. Israel must stop any contacts with Russia and consider it its main enemy.

  • citizenstat

    It might not be a bad idea for Israel to quietly communicate to Russia a few “red lines” of its own. For example, ‘any sophisticated missiles or munitions found moving in the direction of Hezbollah-controlled territory will be destroyed, regardless of who’s transporting them or providing cover for the convoy.

  • Isn’t Hezbollah backed by IRAN? How does Shuefftan come to this assessment? Sounds a little like scare tactics for Israeli populace to take notice of? The largest threat to ISRAEL is IRAN Hamas and Hezbollah. It strikes me Israel is put into an invidious position due to her dependence on the US for arms. From all I have learned about Assad he is a mild mannered man, a Doctor married to an English woman and an Alawait muslim. Iran has been imposing its will all over the mid east in Iraq, Lebanon etc. There was a time when Lebanon was a Christian country and frankly it wasn’t that long ago. This is an extremely subtle war game and at the root is the rise and rise of Wahhabi ISLAM. Russian & Chinese aircraft have been seen in UK airspace as well as Swedish. Obama has caused a great deal of damage in Syria by funding with US tax money the FSA Free Syrian Army an offshoot of ISIS. Israel has to tread very carefully and is capable of covert diplomatic relations with Russia.

  • HaroldT38

    Incredible stupidity giving Russia access to Israeli technology.

  • enufizenuf

    “…suggested that through these deals, Israel would gain “an avenue of influence as a means to reduce the chances of Russia selling advanced weapons to Iran, the Assad regime and Hezbollah.”

    That doesn’t seem very likely. Putin’s decision to form an alliance with Iran (and by extension Syria) betrays an admiration for puritanical totalitarianism that he imagines will have a salutary effect on Russia. Of course, he couldn’t be more wrong, and his utterly horrendous actions, coupled with Obama’s and the insidious Democrats, will result in death and destruction for tens of millions

  • Larry

    It’s great to see Russia stepping up and doing something about this shit. I say to Isreal, stay out of the way.

    • jeremy

      internet wide disonfo campaign by russia and iran.