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For Israel, the Iranians might be the lesser evil

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MENAroundupMENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Mid
 
December 6 · Issue #67 · View online
MENAroundup
MENAroundup
MENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Middle East, focussing on Syria and Iraq. lars@menaroundup.com

Notions
  • Israel has once again bombed targets in Syria, including an Iranian/regime base near Damascus. Most comments highlight that the strikes are a message that Israel is determined to prevent Iran from settling in Syria. However, my personal view is that Israeli strategists aren’t stupid. They are aware that the Iranians already have settled in Syria and they let this happen because the alternative to the Assad regime - a Sunni dominated Syrian state in any manner - is considered as the greater danger to Israeli interests. Following that understanding, the Israeli’s merely negotiate the degree of obvious Iranian infrastructure.
  • Completely unexpected, the technically ongoing discussions in Geneva have come to an end without any success. The regime’s delegation left on Friday. Whether it intended to stay in the first place or whether the opposition’s insistence on a future without Assad came all of a sudden is unclear. But for the Assad regime and its key ally Iran, discussions and possible concessions are less desirable than they were in 2012 when the first round in Geneva started.
  • It cannot be stressed enough how catastrophic the situation in East Ghouta is and how little attention the more than 300.000 trapped civilians get. A Civil Defense official told me that he doesn’t have information about plans for aid to reach the besieged area. The last aid convoy with 4300 food baskets (for more than 25.000 families in Duma) that the regime allowed to enter arrived on November 11th. 
  • ISIS defense lines in eastern Syria have collapsed. Pro-regime forces are hunting remaining fighters who did not go underground while the allegedly ceasefire between the SDF and ISIS east of the Euphrates seems to hold to some extent. Meanwhile, parts of the famous Tiger Forces have been deployed to northern Hama where Russian airstrikes could pave the way for an offensive on the Abu al-Dhuhur Airbase in Idlib, where Abdullah al-Muhaysini attended the executions of dozens of SAA soldiers in 2015 after a rebel coalition stormed the site.
Articles worth reading
How the US helped to defuse Saudi Arabia's dangerous gambit with Lebanon
Survival Through Destruction
Uighur Foreign Fighters: An Underexamined Jihadist Challenge
A War Within a War: Chechnya’s Expanding Role in Syria
SDF commander's claims of Turkish allegiance raise eyebrows
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