Remembering Nasser…

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Mazhar Al-Shereidah

It looked as if it were a discussion about tourism, public places and avenues in Moscow named after Nasser: the Egyptian president who died in September 1970. Our storyteller was asking a friend who recently came back from Russia if Nasser is still remembered there and if there is any monument to pay respect to his memory. It was imperative to ask the old man why on earth he should be remembered…

He then spoke directly to a member of the team who is very enthusiastic about the possibility of Russia being involved in South America, on the shores of the Caribbean. “Well…” he said, “let me tell you why I consider that Nasser’s name deserves not only an important monument in Moscow, but even a special chapter in 20th century history of Russian international policy.”

Nasser was the man who enabled Russia to have a footprint in Africa and the Arab and Moslem world. And it was all caused by J.F. Dulles, the then Secretary of Foreign Affairs under the Eisenhower Presidency, who blocked a World Bank credit to build the vital Aswan Dam. Nasser refused to be conditioned or used by the US and by doing so, he turned to the USSR and thus laid the red carpet for its – apparently at the beginning – disinterested and solidarity attitude.

That was in the mid-fifties. Ten years or so later, in 1967, Israel inflicted a mortal attack on Egypt, not only in military terms but also with destructive political, economic and moral effects. Nasser’s army was fully engaged in a proxy war in Yemen, where Moscow and Washington were the real players, when Tel Aviv decided to strike and destroy the Egyptian air force like sitting ducks in a matter of hours.

Is plausible to believe that Moscow was not previously informed about such a massive military operation? Another question followed: “It is happening again right now, in Damascus even more openly, but you just look away.” “It is easier that way” the old man replied in anger.

He was referring to Israeli air attacks on Damascus on the 21st January.

In his opinion, it is an act of betrayal. Russia’s military presence in Syria is to enforce that country’s defenses and not to coordinate with Israel, its declared enemy.

Sovereignty, in some cases, but don’t take the word too seriously

January 13, 2019

Some people tend to believe that the progress achieved on the international arena has led to a more democratic, participative and egalitarian set of principles that reflect more advanced moral standards and a real respect for ethics and the sovereignty of people as well as nations and countries.

As one looks at Syria as an example, we find that the fate of Syria at this moment is under discussion, unfortunately not by its own people but by foreign players and not on its soil but mainly in Washington, Moscow, Ankara, Teheran, Tel Aviv, Geneva, Astana… The following facts should suffice:

September 21st 2015, (Reuters)

Israel, Russia to coordinate military action on Syria: Netanyahu

• Recent Russian reinforcements for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which regional sources say include warplanes and anti-aircraft systems, worry Israel, suspected handovers of advanced arms to Assad’s Lebanese guerrilla ally Hezbollah.
• Moscow keeps a big Mediterranean naval base on Syria’s coast.
• The United States has also been holding so-called “deconfliction” talks with Russia. US officials said Russia had started flying surveillance missions with drone aircraft in Syria.
• Netanyahu said he had come with the goal of “prevent[ing] misunderstandings between IDF (Israel Defense Force) units and Russian forces” in Syria… Israel’s premier took along the chief of its armed forces and the general in charge of Israeli military intelligence.
• “Our policy is to do everything to stop weapons from being sent to Hezbollah,” Netanyahu told Putin at their photo-op. He also set out Israel’s policy of striking at guerrillas suspected of preparing to attack it from the Syrian Golan, on the northern frontier – an apparent signal to Russia to steer clear there.
• Israel and Russia agreed to coordinate military actions over Syria in order to avoid accidentally trading fire, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said and “agreed on a mechanism to prevent such misunderstandings”.
• Netanyahu said that he had informed the Americans “on each and every detail” of his Moscow visit, adding: “Everyone has an interest in avoiding an unnecessary clash” over Syria.

Just look at this a candid expression:

A U.S. official said U.S.-Israeli coordination allowed the allies to share classified technologies for identifying Russian aircraft over Syria: “We know how to spot them clearly and quickly.”

The former Netanyahu adviser said any understandings reached with Putin “could come down to Israel and Russia agreeing to limit themselves to defined areas of operation in Syria, or even that they fly at daytime and we fly at night”.

Human failures can happen as they did indeed, and of course, Moscow was angry. That was on September 18th 2018 (Reuters).

Russian defense minister spoke to Israeli counterpart over plane incident

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke to his Israeli opposite number, Avigdor Lieberman – Moscow holds Israel wholly to blame for the shooting down of a Russian military plane near Syria .

On 23rd September 2018 it was described as a “criminal negligence” or disregard to Russia-Israel ties.

Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov, “the military leadership of Israel either has no appreciation for the level of relations with Russia, or has no control over individual commands or commanding officers who understood that their actions would lead to tragedy.”… with regard to the Russian Ilyushin IL-20 with 15 crew on board, Konashenkov called such actions “a clear violation of the 2015 Russian-Israeli agreements.”

Khmeimim air base, another Russian facility

The Russian Command had to order the recon plane back to the Khmeimim air base, but it was too late and that caused the loss of life of 15 Russian servicemen.
Israel “crossed the line of civilized relations” with “ungrateful response”.

Israel’s negligent behavior amounts to a flagrant violation of the very spirit of cooperation between the countries, stated Konashenkov, noting that Russia has never broken its commitment to the deconfliction agreement – it has always informed Israel about their missions in advance and has never used its air defense capabilities against the Israelis even though their airstrikes sometimes put the Russian servicemen in danger.

Reading the following sounds like treatment between lovers – it’s touching…

Russia has sent as many as 310 notifications to the Israeli Air Force Command, while the latter appeared to be reluctant to show the same level of commitment, notifying only 25 times even though its jets carried out more than 200 strikes against targets located in Syria over the past 18 months alone, said Konashenkov.

“This is an extremely ungrateful response to all that has been done by the Russian Federation for Israel and the Israeli people recently”.

Russia has done much for Israel in Syria

The Russian military supported the Syrian military operation in the Golan Heights to “ensure there were no shelling attacks on Israeli territory” anymore.

Russia also managed to secure the withdrawal of all Iran-backed groups from the Golan Heights to a “safe distance for Israel”, more than 140 kilometers to the east of Syria, the spokesperson said, adding that this was done at the request of Tel Aviv. “A total of 1,050 personnel, 24 MLRSs and tactical missiles, as well as 145 pieces of other munitions and military equipment were withdrawn from the area,” added Konashenkov.

And one has to agree with the Russian version. Without Moscow’s complicity, Israel would not have been able to make such a victorious announcement… 13th January 2019, The New York Times.

“We struck thousands of targets”: IDF chief of staff on Israel’s “near-daily” strikes in Syria. The outgoing chief of staff just openly confessed to running a large-scale bombing campaign in Syria.
In 2018 alone, Israel dropped around 2,000 bombs on alleged Iran-linked targets, Gadi Eisenkot told the New York Times.

“We struck thousands of targets without claiming responsibility or asking for credit,” Eisenkot stated, confessing to carrying out strikes on a “near-daily” basis.

Eisenkot stated that, anyway, neither Damascus nor Tehran can do anything about it. We have complete intelligence superiority in this area. We enjoy complete aerial superiority. We have strong deterrence and we have the justification to act.

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