On August 30th, Israeli Defense Ministery Avigdor Lieberman said that Israel will not adhere to any agreements the international community may reach on Syria after the war.
“From Israel’s perspective, with all due respect and appreciation for all the agreements and the understandings — we are not bound by them,” Liberman said. “The only thing that obligates us are the security interests of the State of Israel,” he continued.
I24 news reported that this was most likely referring to a defense cooperation agreement signed earlier this week between Damascus and Tehran, which said Iranian military forces would remain in Syria. This goes directly against Israel’s diplomatic plan to convince Russia and the US to push out Iran’s forces out of Syria, or at the least move them away from the Israeli border. On August 29th Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz both said that the agreement between Tehran and Damascus would not deter Israel from taking military action against Iranian forces in Syria.
“In the military sphere, the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) will continue to take strong and determined action against Iran’s attempts to station forces and advanced weapons systems in Syria,” Benjamin Netanyahu said. “No agreement between Syria and Iran will deter us; neither will any threat deter us,” he further vowed.
Furthermore, he said that “We shall observe to the letter all previous agreements.”
I24 News cited Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, which on August 28th claimed that the US offered Syria a deal, during a secret meeting in Damascus, which sees US forces leaving the country in exchange for Iranian forces withdrawing from the south.
Lieberman spoke to reporters near the Lebanon-Israeli border. He said that Syria was preparing to retake Idlib, “the last major stronghold of terrorists in Syria.” He also reiterated that political efforts by Iran, Turkey, Russia and the international community in general to “redesign” Syria were increasing. “We see different gatherings … in Ankara, in Tehran, in Geneva and also in other places, talking [about] after the battle over Idlib [and] about the new design of Syria,” Liberman noted.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif visited Turkey on August 29th for “surprise” talks with Turkey’s leadership over the looming Idlib offensive. The UN envoy for Syria will also hold talks with Turkey, Iran, Russia, the US and several other EU and Middle Eastern countries in Geneva in September.
The offense on Idlib appears to be drawing closer, with Haaretz citing Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem who met his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow. Al-Moualem said “we will go all the way” in Idlib, declaring the al-Qaeda and al-Nusra as the main targets.
“This hotbed of terrorists [in Idlib] does really not bode anything good if such inaction continues,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call. “The situation in Syria has a significant potential to become more complicated and the situation around Idlib leaves a lot to be desired,” he said.
The war in Syria appears to be in its final stages. Israel, however, appears to be isolated from the talks and the only way the country can influence post-war Syria is through the US.