By Sayed Hasan
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Following an unprecedented raid of four Israeli fighter jets that deliberately endangered Russian personnel and installations in Syria, an Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft carrying 15 Russian servicemen was accidentally shot down, apparently by Syrian anti-aircraft defenses. The statement of the Russian Defense Ministry, of a rare firmness, clearly identified Israel as the only responsible, reserving “the right to respond accordingly”.
However, the subsequent statement by Vladimir Putin seems to diminish the importance of this incident, and even clear Israel of any responsibility, simply speaking of a “series of tragic circumstances”. How to reconcile these two statements? And what are the causes and the foreseeable consequences of this event?
Let us recall the context. After seven years of a global hybrid war, Syria is in the process of being completely liberated from the terrorist presence, confined to the Idlib region. This will definitely bury the project of destruction of Syria carried by the United States, Israel and their vassals from Europe and the Gulf. This victory will allow the Syrian forces and its allies of theResistance Axis to devote themselves fully to the fight against Israel, which they have never lost sight of. A nightmare for Tel-Aviv, who, fighting against fate, strives to push back this inevitable deadline and perpetuate the war in Syria.
Since the liberation of Aleppo and the south, Syria’s enemies are desperate to derail any political or military resolution of the conflict. Their aim is, if not to provoke a large-scale conflagration, at least to create the slightest incident-pretext that can justify strikes that will seriously weaken the Syrian Arab Army and the government of Bashar al-Assad. On the eve of this incident, Israel carried out a similar act, hitting an Iranian cargo plane and killing its co-pilot. Such provocations do not reveal a position of strength or even a rational actor, but rather a beleaguered country that does not shrink from the most insane acts bearing the most dangerous consequences (entering into direct confrontation with Iran, then with Russia), as futile as they are, because it is impossible to prevent the final liberation of Syria or even the transfer of arms within the Resistance Axis. France has also participated in the aggression-provocation against Syria, and the Russian radars have recorded missile fire from the Frégate Auvergne against targets that remain unspecified. In vain.
Russia, Syria and their allies will not be distracted from their priority to liberate Idlib, which they prefer to delay rather than allow chemical masquerades or other humanitarian pretexts. They will not respond to provocations indiscriminately and will not be dragged into escalation, knowing the importance of being patient and waiting for the most favorable circumstances to be met, both in Syria and on the international scene -mid-term elections in the United States, which will be held in early November, are an important deadline, after which US strikes would be less likely. The agreement between Russia and Turkey must also weaken the terrorists in Idlib, as Turkey is charged with implementing a demilitarized zone that will drive away hostile forces on the Syrian government and focus them in a smaller area. In the meantime, Syria continues to rebuild, strengthen, and rally more fighters for reconciliation, while preparing for the inevitable final offensive. 2018 will most certainly be the last year of Daesh / Al-Qaeda, and see the liberation of all Syrian territory.
Unlike Israel and the imperialist countries, Putin is not a follower of the rhetoric of bravaches (let us remember that neither France nor Israel took responsibility for their strikes) and cares little for appearances. He prefers to advance his pawns discreetly, even if he seems weak, rather than indulging in epidermal reactions, discovering his intentions or playing the adversary’s game. He prefers to take him by surprise, to reassure him falsely before striking him (directly or indirectly), or even to threaten him to better rally him. It is enough to remember his particularly virulent reaction to the incident of the Russian plane shot down by Turkey, which had not been followed up (Turkey apologized and joined, to a certain extent, the Russian-Iranian alliance), or the apparent passivity that followed the coup in Ukraine, before the integration of Crimea into the Russian Federation that no one had seen coming -just like the Russian intervention in Syria. It is only when all the pieces are in place that Russia takes action, focusing on the battlefields and not on public relations. It is enough for Putin to be consistent in his foreign policy and loyal to his allies.
The same goes for the allies, who are also aiming for the medium and long term and know that time is in their favor. Have we seen Hezbollah, Iran or Syria respond to the innumerable provocations of Israel by striking inside the Zionist entity? Very few (Hezbollah in January 2015 and Syria in May 2018). But as Israel is well aware, the Resistance Axis, now extended to Iraq and Yemen, is stronger than ever, and still committed to liberate the occupied territories, starting with the Golan, on which he already has his eyes riveted on, actively preparing for the Great War of Liberation of Palestine.
Russia is in Syria to end the terrorist presence and guarantee the stability of the Syrian State, and has no desire to take part in a regional war or cause a third world war. But with regard to this particular incident, Putin clearly emphasized 1/ that he fully endorses the statement of the Russian Ministry of Defense, which was coordinated with him; 2/ that he awaits the results of a thorough investigation before pronouncing his decision definitively; 3/ that there will be a level of reaction that will be immediately visible to all, implying that other measures will not be (immediately) known to the public. No need to imagine Russian anti-aircraft defenses shooting down any Israeli aircraft flying over Syria or Russian installations; but we can be sure that the Syrian defenses, which have already proved their worth, will be greatly strengthened, and that the Syrian and Lebanese skies will become ever more dangerous for Israel.
It is certain that this tragedy will not be forgotten in Russia, and will only strengthen its alliance with the Resistance Axis and distance it from Tel Aviv, both in terms of diplomatic relations and within the Russian public opinion, legitimately outraged by this heinous criminal act -warning Russian forces less than a minute before the strikes is typical Israeli chutzpah. Israel loses nothing to wait, on the contrary, even if its murderous -or rather suicidal- hybris seems once more forgiven.
Official Statement from MoD on Downing Russian Il-20 Aircraft
We consider these provocative actions of Israel to be hostile. The reckless actions of the Israeli military killed 15 Russian airmen. It’s absolutely incompatible with the spirit of the Russian-Israeli partnership. We reserve the right to respond accordingly.
Vladimir Putin’s Press conference following Russian-Hungarian talks
September 18, 2018
[…] Now I would like to say a few words about the tragedy you mentioned. When people die, especially in such unfortunate circumstances, it is always a tragedy, a tragedy for all of us, for the nation and for the families of our people who lost their lives.
First of all, I would like to express condolences to the families of the dead.
As for your comparison with the downing of our plane by a Turkish fighter, this was a different situation. The Turkish fighter deliberately shot down our aircraft.
In this case, it is more a chain of tragic circumstances because an Israeli fighter did not down our aircraft. It goes without saying that we must get to the bottom of this. Our attitude towards this tragedy is set forth in a statement by our Defence Ministry, and has been fully coordinated with me.
As for reciprocal action, this will be primarily aimed at ensuring additional security for our military and our facilities in the Syrian Arab Republic. These steps will be seen by everyone.