The two statesmen have one thing in common, however, and it is sufficient – they need each other, and they recognize it and act accordingly:
Despite its size Russia is a dying society; its population is declining steadily, and the public health situation is ghastly. The population decline is not just because of a low birth rate but also because of a high death rate.
Despite its size, Israel is an economic, scientific and technological powerhouse and has by far the most powerful military in all of the Middle East/North Africa region (MENA).
Putin’s Russia has one overriding regional objective; namely retaining its recently-acquired domination of the eastern Mediterranean through its naval and air bases on the Syrian coast.
Netanyahu’s government has one overriding regional objective (among many others), namely preventing the creation of an arc of Iranian domination to its north, involving Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, and preventing the Iranian development of a nuclear capacity.
Russia wants no rival to its creation of a sphere of influence in the region and thus is opposed to the spread of Iranian domination. Israel wants its northern border to be as free of external threats as possible.
Given that their objectives not only do not clash but coincide, these two master statesmen reached agreements in Moscow designed to suit both their interests. This was confirmed following the meeting by a declaration on the part of Putin that: (1) Iranian forces should evacuate Syria and (2) that Israel has an absolute right to defend its borders.
Given its penchant for concentrating on trivia, the major media paid little attention to Putin’s statement, but it is in fact of fundamental importance for Israel. In effect, Putin is telling Iran not to try to complete its arc of influence, or it will meet with Russian opposition, as well as that of Israel and presumably the US. He is giving Israel carte blanche to take military action against Iranian targets in Syria, as well as against Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, in Syria and Lebanon.
Interestingly, it is possible that Iran will, whatever it says for public consumption, actually welcome having an excuse to bring home its forces in Syria, if only to increase its capacity to repress the exponentially-increasing popular rebellion at home, fueled by ethnic hatred of the regime by the non-Persian minorities, and economic misery caused by a disastrous drought and gross mismanagement of the economy.
Turkey can only be an observer of these developments. It knows full well that Russia can close the Bosporus at any time and effectively suffocate it. With economic problems of his own, Erdogan has no incentive to escalate tensions and will limit himself to his well-known verbal eruptions.
Fundamental changes indeed and to the benefit of Israel. Congratulations to Czar Vladimir and Bibi!
*Norman A. Bailey, Ph.D., is Professor of Economics and National Security, The National Security Studies Center, University of Haifa, and Adjunct Professor of Economic Statecraft, The Institute of World Politics, Washington, DC. He was formerly with the US National Security Council and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Dr. Bailey is on the Advisory Board of ACD.
- This commentary was published by Globes [online], Israel business news, on June 6, 2018