Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu decided at their June 7 meeting in Moscow to deepen the military ties between the Russian and Israeli armed forces, DEBKAfile reported exclusively on June 10. It was a historic decision that spelled the end of the IDF’s exclusive relations with the US military.
Putin and Netanyahu decided on that occasion that Israeli and Russian naval and air forces would stage a joint summer war game in the Mediterranean, as part of the first stage of these expanded ties.
This will be the first time in modern Middle East military history that Russian military planes take off from an Arab country, Syria’s Hmeymim airbase, and Russian warships sail out of Arab bases in Tartus and Latakia, to join the Israeli air force and navy in a military exercise.
DEBKA Weekly’s sources can now disclose that the understandings reached by Putin and Netanyahu are even more inclusive than we first revealed. In fact, they extend to the future of Syria. Past and present US presidents have all determinedly refused to consult with Israel on any Arab issue.
Our sources list seven understandings which are also serve as telling pointers to Moscow’s intentions with regard to Syria.
- The Syrian regime is to pass into the hands of a transitional administration in which the Syrian opposition, Assad’s following and the Syrian military are represented.
- President Bashar Assad will be excluded from office in the provisional administration and the government that is finally established in Damascus.
- The provisional government will head a federation of autonomous semi-independent regions.
- Moscow supports the establishment of an autonomous Kurdish region in Syria that will be linked to the autonomous Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRG).
In a little-noticed step Tuesday, June 7, DEBKA Weekly sources found that the KRG had quietly reopened the Semalka border crossing to the Syrian Kurdish location of Rojava, virtually eliminating the border between the Iraqi and Syrian Kurdish entities. The crossing had been closed for three months over a political argument between the Kurdistan Democratic Party-KDP of northern Iraq and the Democratic Union Party-PYD of Syria.
“I am very pleased the border between Kurdistan Region and Rojava has now been opened. We have a moral duty towards our brothers and sisters,” said Lahur Talabani, Director of the Iraqi Kurdistan’s Counter Terrorism Group-CTG.
- Russia has clarified to Israel that no supporters of Iran or Hizballah will serve in any post-Assad regime in Damascus.
- Putin pledged to abstain from activating Russian forces and air force in southern Syria.
- In return, Netanyahu undertook to halt Israeli military and logistic assistance to Syrian rebels groups operating in southern Syria. Our military sources report that when this week Syrian rebel groups got into a fight near Quneitra, 5km from the Israeli Golan border, the IDF refrained from interfering, although until now Israeli troops invariably stepped in when Syrian battles came too close to this border.