Russian Mixed Signals about the ‘Iranian Knot’

Russian Mixed Signals about the ‘Iranian Knot’

Wednesday, 11 July, 2018 - 05:15
Israeli PM Netanyahu and Russian President Putin meet outside Moscow in 2015. (AFP)
Moscow, Beirut - Raed Jaber and Nazeer Rida
A “very important” meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday could stumble on the “knot” of the Iranian presence in Syria, particularly after circles close to the Kremlin revealed contradictory reports about the file.

One side said Moscow is close to reaching a deal with Tel Aviv and Washington about decreasing the presence of Iranians in Syria, while another doubted that Moscow has the “will and capacity” to exert any pressure on them.

Russia is racing against time and preparing proposals to arrange some agreements with regional and international parties on Syria after it succeeded in seizing complete control of its southern region.

Netanyahu’s meeting with Putin will mainly focus on tackling Israel’s demand that all Iranian forces leave Syria.

The Kremlin said Tuesday that the officials are expected to discuss pressing cooperation issues and problems on the global agenda, including Syria and ways to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Asharq Al-Awsat learned that Russia first invited Netanyahu for talks, hoping to arrange a meeting between him and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

However, the Israeli PM demanded that the agenda be changed to instead focus on Syria.

Accordingly, the Kremlin’s protocol administration set up a meeting between Putin and Netanyahu on condition that it does not exceed 40 minutes due to the Russian president’s busy schedule.

On the battlefield, talks between a Russian delegation and representatives from opposition factions in the western Daraa countryside have still not reached any final deal through which the fighters can hand over areas under their control to the regime.

A similar agreement was reached for the eastern countryside.

On Tuesday, the regime alluded that it may launch a military operation in the western countryside after dropping leaflets calling on opposition fighters to hand over their arms.

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