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Israel is ‘hopeful’ over Russian involvement in Syria

October 24, 2015 at 11:14 am

A report published by Reuters on Thursday said that Israel is hopeful regarding the Russian airstrikes on Syria. Moscow’s alliance with Israel’s enemies in the region could provide a “moderate influence,” claimed one official.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin is not looking to mess with Israel,” the anonymous official from the prime minister’s office said, “and it is unlikely he would look kindly on Iran or Hezbollah messing with Israel now, either.” The connection between Russia and the two Shia powers involved in Syria would normally be a cause of concern for the government in Tel Aviv, but this looks less likely under the current circumstances.

“The new order in the Middle East is loose coalitions for specific purposes,” explained the Israeli official, “so a Russian partnership with Iran and Hezbollah to save Assad is not necessarily bad for us.”

Russia’s Ambassador to Israel, Alexander Shein, told Reuters that his country is carrying out airstrikes against “terrorist groups” and nothing more. He dismissed talk of alliances with Iran and Hezbollah over events in Syria.

According to Shein, Russia is aware of Israel’s “strategic importance” in the region, and knows the reasons for its airstrikes against Syria in the past. However, he “suggested” to Reuters that an Assad victory might “best serve” Israel and regional security concerns. When the conflict in Syria broke out in 2011, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government called for the ouster of President Bashar Al-Assad. It is not so open about the issue now, with officials believing that Assad’s chances of staying in power have been “improved” by Russia’s intervention.

Praising Israel’s “prudence” over its stance on Syria, Shein also noted Tel Aviv’s “wisdom” with regards to Russia’s seizure of Crimea in 2014. “I hope it reflects concern for the development of Russian-Israeli relations in a true, friendly and cooperative manner,” the ambassador said.