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The Assassination of a Russian Ambassador Won’t Stop Russo-Turkish Reconciliation

Dec. 26 2016

After a brief period during which Ankara and Moscow found themselves backing opposite sides in the Syrian civil war, reconciliation now seems inevitable—despite the dramatic assassination of the Russian envoy to Turkey. Eyal Zisser explains what this renewed alliance portends:

Russia’s [return to the Middle East] has been facilitated by Iranian cooperation, in exchange for substantial profits. Thus in Syria the Russians are bombing targets from the sky and the Iranians are fighting on the ground. It is safe to assume that this partnership between Moscow and Tehran, which also includes Hizballah, is predicated on an agreement to partition Syria and essentially the entire [Arab] Middle East—Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon—into spheres of Russian and Iranian influence. . . .

At the base of the shift in Turkey’s position is the recognition of Russian military might and ability to inflict damage, but also the realization that Washington has abandoned the region and its friends there. The Turks are also realistic enough to understand that under the present circumstances their proxies in Syria, the rebels fighting Assad, have only a slim chance of emerging victorious. Yet aside from all this, Turkey views the Kurds as the real danger. Thus latching onto Moscow and moving against the Kurds, who are supported by Washington, is a prudent and necessary step.

We can assume that in return for its willingness to help stabilize the situation in Syria, Turkey’s proxies—fighting in northern Syria, in the Idlib province and north of Aleppo—will receive immunity that will allow them to stay in control there and focus primarily on fighting with the Turks against the Kurds, who are seeking to establish their own autonomy in those areas. . . .

Turkey’s attachment to Russia strengthens Moscow, which can now maneuver as it pleases between Ankara and Tehran, and via a policy of “divide and conquer” advance its interests at the expense of both.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Middle East, Politics & Current Affairs, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Russia, Syrian civil war, Turkey

Putting Aside the Pious Lies about the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Jan. 23 2018

In light of recent developments, including Mahmoud Abbas’s unusually frank speech to the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s leadership, Moshe Arens advocates jettisoning some frequently mouthed but clearly false assumptions about Israel’s situation, beginning with the idea that the U.S. should act as a neutral party in negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah. (Free registration may be required.)

The United States cannot be, and has never been, neutral in mediating the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It is the leader of the world’s democratic community of nations and cannot assume a neutral position between democratic Israel and the Palestinians, whether represented by an autocratic leadership that glorifies acts of terror or by Islamic fundamentalists who carry out acts of terror. . . .

In recent years the tectonic shifts in the Arab world, the lower price of oil, and the decreased importance attached to the Palestinian issue in much of the region, have essentially removed the main incentive the United States had in past years to stay involved in the conflict. . . .

Despite the conventional wisdom that the core issues—such as Jerusalem or the fate of Israeli settlements beyond the 1949 armistice lines—are the major stumbling blocks to an agreement, the issue for which there seems to be no solution in sight at the moment is making sure that any Israeli military withdrawal will not result in rockets being launched against Israel’s population centers from areas that are turned over to the Palestinians. . . .

Does that mean that Israel is left with a choice between a state with a Palestinian majority or an apartheid state, as claimed by Israel’s left? This imaginary dilemma is based on a deterministic theory of history, which disregards all other possible alternatives in the years to come, and on questionable demographic predictions. What the left is really saying is this: better rockets on Tel Aviv than a continuation of Israeli military control over Judea and Samaria. There is little support in Israel for that view.

Read more at Haaretz

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Mahmoud Abbas, Peace Process, US-Israel relations