"Last Thursday, (August 17/2017) a senior delegation of Israelis started consultations with their U.S. counterparts to begin planning a wider strategy to pressure Iran, Hezbollah and other Shiite militias to leave the Levant as, they hope, the war in Syria peters out.Flashback Monday August 14/2017: Headed by Mossad Chief, Israeli Defense Delegation to Fly to Washington for White House Talks on Syria
One senior National Security Council official told me the plan was to make it "less pleasant for Iran to stay than to leave." A senior Israeli official confirmed that the two sides agreed to work together on a regional strategy to address Iran's efforts to expand its presence in Syria and Lebanon.How could the US and Israel ensure that Iran's aid to Syria is made unpleasant?
The consultations included very senior officials from both countries. The Israeli side included the Mossad director Yossi Cohen, the acting national security adviser Eytan Ben-David, the chief of the Israel Defense Forces' military intelligence directorate Herzi Halevi and the Israeli ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer. The U.S. delegation included National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, CIA director Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates and Trump's special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt.
There are a few reasons why all of this is important. To start, it shows a continuing commitment to an initial project of McMaster's predecessor, Mike Flynn: to drive a wedge between Iran and Russia.
Netanyahu, Cohen and other senior officials will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin Wednesday, and Syria will be on the agenda. Israel does not love Russia's military involvement in Syria, but can tolerate it. Iran is a different story. Russia, unlike Iran, has not anchored its state ideology in the destruction of the world's only Jewish state.
Trump's team has also pursued cooperation with Russia in Syria, but has not sought such cooperation with Iran. Indeed, a U.S. spokesman for the coalition to defeat the Islamic State this week told Reuters the mission was to "defeat ISIS in designated areas of Iraq and Syria and to set conditions for follow-on operations to increase regional stability."
Through their lackies in the annexed northern territory of Syria, of course!
Flashback-Friday August 18/2017: US to Remain In Syrian “Kurdistan” For Decades After ISIS is “Defeated” Also: PKK/YPG Ask US to Hinder Syrian Arab Army Advances On Syrian Territory Also: Sunday August 6/2017:- Who Will Take Deir Ezzor From ISIS? Who Always "Wins" Against ISIS? Also-Assad's Speech - Eyes On The Deir Ez-Zor Keystone
As the Israeli official told me this week, it was important to Netanyahu's government to make sure that the Russian-U.S. cooperation in Syria did not entail acceptance of a permanent Iranian presence in Syria. Tillerson's ceasefire could have opened the door to just that.Interestingly Jared Kushner visits Egypt as the US cut off military aid to Egypt..
The consultations also indicate that McMaster has rebounded from his shaky start in the job. With the removal of his West Wing rival, Steve Bannon, McMaster now has a freer hand to coordinate U.S. foreign policy from his perch at the National Security Council. The meeting last week with the Israelis helped smooth an important ally's ruffled feathers.
The meeting also counters a narrative put out by McMaster's adversaries in Washington that he is hostile to Israel. The Israeli official told me that he was particularly generous with his time, inviting the delegation to his home for dinner and impressing on the Israelis the importance the president places on countering Iranian influence in the Middle East.
Both Israeli and U.S. officials tell me they expect more working-level follow-ups on the consultations. One factor that is likely to be part of the U.S. strategy in Syria will be empowering both Egypt and Jordan to play a greater role in building on the ceasefires negotiated by Russia, Iran, Turkey and the U.S. As Ha'aretz Middle East analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote Monday, Egypt is already conducting its diplomacy between rebel militias and the Syrian regime. That's reassuring to Israel because Egypt too considers Iran to be a major threat to regional stability.
Arm twisting? :DW- Egypt gives Jared Kushner cold welcome after US cuts military aid
Not coincidentally Jordan's king is visiting Canada- August 27 to 29th
DW-"Cairo on Wednesday expressed regret over Washington's decision to cut aid to Egypt on the eve of the US presidential adviser's official visit aimed at reviving the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
"Egypt considers this step as a misjudgment of the nature of the strategic relations that binds the two countries over decades, and reflects the lack of understanding of the importance of supporting the stability and success of Egypt," said a statement from the Foreign Ministry"Canada's announcement regarding "State Visit by King of Jordan"
Governor General Announces the State Visit to Canada of
King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
OTTAWA—His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, is delighted to announce the State visit to Canada of His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, from August 27th to 29th, 2017.Egypt's US Military aid cut off- King Jordan visiting 5 eyes partner, Canada, in just a few days- All this coming ahead of Syria's advancing on the vital Deir ez Zor- Not a coincidence
Both nations named specifically in the article as nations to be encouraged to interfere in Syria, to the benefit of Israel/US.
Bloomberg: Including Israel in the U.S. planning on countering Iran is also a change from the Obama administration. During the Iran nuclear talks, the Israelis were briefed on the status of the negotiations, but were not at the table to influence the eventual agreement, which both Netanyahu as well as his political rivals opposed. The tensions during this period soured the U.S.-Israel relationship, especially after the Obama White House accused Israel of trying to spy on the talks and then brief Congress on them.Trump is taking the same approach as Obama- appeasing Israel. Only the media spin is different.
The world has been watching for signs of how Trump would navigate the Middle East. Last week's talks in Washington show that Trump is taking a different approach with Netanyahu than Obama did, and is getting a different response.