Russian and American officials are discussing the possibility to a ceasefire on Assad and the rebels, which will dismantle Syria into several control zones. Meanwhile, each side tries to improve its positions
Moshe Ya’alon will enter his second term as defense minister with high levels of tension (once again) on the northern border. The media receives only bits of information about what is happening in the north, but there is no doubt that the northern front is the most pressing defense challenge for Israel. Proof of this was given this week as well, in a series of events on both sides of the border in the Golan Heights.
What is less known is the fact that the events occurring these very days in Syria, which also affect Israel, are first and foremost “a game” of the world powers – the United States and Russia. Israel may be seeing the consequences of an American-Russian move being formulated to impose a ceasefire in Syria, after no less than four years of a bloody civil war. Defense sources estimate this is a coordinated move for which the practical meaning is the dismantlement of Syria into several control zones, when the fighting stops.
The Russians and Americans recognize that the fighting has reached a dead end. The Russians, who are concerned for the continuity of the grip they have of Syria through President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, will make sure to continue his rule by ensuring its survival in most areas of Damascus, the mountainous areas leading towards the port of Tartus (which will remain their sole naval base in the Middle East), and in the Syrian Golan Heights region. The other areas will fall in the hands of rebel groups.
The recently resumed ferocious fighting is related to the end of the winter season and to the fact that fighters are starting to “smell” the ceasefire. Each side wants to transfer additional areas to its control, before the war is over (if in fact it ends). An especially tough battle took place this week in Al-Klmon, between Jabhat Al-Nusra (identified with Global Jihad), forces of Hezbollah and Syrian forces (who are both a part of the same camp).
Difficult battles are also raging in the region of the Golan Heights, during which stray mortar shells landed on the Israeli side of the border.
The US-Russia move, if executed, may bring the decline of the civil war in Syria, since Assad is dependent on the Russians in order to continue fighting. Also, Iran and Hezbollah might be interested in a ceasefire as long as the continuation of Bashar al-Assad’s regime is guaranteed, even in limited territory.