The fighting in the North-western district of Idlib may turn out to be the last big battle in the Syrian civil war. In its determination to gain a final victory, the Assad regime has been accused of readying a chemical weapon strike, and there is an American commitment to punish Damascus if that happens.
To discuss these events, we are joined by…
1. Dr. Nir Boms – Research fellow, Moshe Dayan center at Tel Aviv University
2. Prof. Zeev Hanin, Expert on Russian and Middle Eastern Studies, Bar Ilan and Ariel Universities
3. TV7 Analist Paula Slier
In mid-June, Syrian and pro-regime forces began what they see as a decisive (and long overdue) campaign in southern Syria aimed at eliminating the rebel resistance within the southern “de-escalation” zone along the Israeli and Jordanian borders. The military campaign involved substantial Syria government forces advised and assisted by Russian military and air force personnel.
The regime and its allies have demonstrated superior military power, which has already “convinced” over 30 towns to return to regime control. Some rebel-controlled cities – Busra al-Sham, the surrounding villages to its south, and al-Jieza – agreed to comply with “reconciliation agreements,” requiring the surrender of arms and removal of key rebel leaders. In contrast to previous agreements, large scale evacuations of the area are to be avoided. However, rebels who contest the deal will be evacuated to the rebel stronghold around Idlib in northeastern Syria, which remains under Turkish supervision. Following the regime and its allies’ conquest of the majority of the northeastern part of the former “reconciliation zone” in Derʿa Province, talks will focus on the remaining rebel territory in Derʿa’s western countryside and the southern half of the city. In the meantime, according to UN estimates, the battles have pushed more than 320,000 people out of their homes, mainly towards the Israeli and Jordanian borders. View full post…
The Dilemma of Sponsorship, from Southern Lebanon to Daraa and Quneitra
Israel may soon face a dilemma. The “arrangement” with Russia as to the future of Syria may stave-off an Iranian presence but will pose an existential danger to the groups of rebels near the border – groups which have worked closely with the IDF to prevent direct friction with hostile elements on the line of contact. It is vital that the solutions to this challenge demonstrate to future partners that Israel does not turn its back on those who have assisted it facing a common threat.
Colonel (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman and Dr. Nir Boms
Defense Minister Lieberman’s latest meeting with his Russian counterpart Shoygu and the Prime Minister’s latest conversation with President Putin have turned an additional spotlight to the issue of the “Arrangement” addressing the withdrawal of foreign forces – Iranian and otherwise – out of Syria, including out of the region of southern Syria and near Israel’s border. As is known, the southern Syrian region has in recent years been characterized as a “strip of influence” where the IDF has been active mainly on the humanitarian level and in coordination with rebel groups on the other side of the border. Alongside the security and strategic considerations guiding Israel toward the anticipated regularization (of the Assad regime’s presence in the southern-Syrian area), it is important to also consider the ethical dimension and Israel’s long-term interest of not appearing to forsake those who have relied on its aid in recent years.