Israel’s biggest fears are materializing, Israel Hayom, Boaz Bismuth, September 27, 2015The Munich moment is upon us. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif at U.N. headquarters on Saturday | Photo credit: AP
Washington is reaching out to Russia, which is openly helping Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is working in conjunction with Iran, which in turn supports Hezbollah. Now Europe is prepared to talk to Assad, but what about us, for heaven’s sake?
Two years ago to the day, in September 2013, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry compared Bashar Assad to Adolf Hitler, after the Syrian dictator once again used chemical weapons against his own people. “This is our Munich moment,” Kerry said at the time.
As far as the Americans were concerned, Assad had crossed a line. In those days (more like in those hours, actually), Washington briefly believed that a failure to respond to Assad’s actions would send a dangerous message to Iran regarding its nuclear ambitions.
“Will [Iran] remember that the Assad regime was stopped from those weapons’ current or future use, or will they remember that the world stood aside and created impunity?” Kerry asked at the time. History and retrospect have turned what may have been Kerry’s greatest speech into remarks entirely detached from reality.
The United States did not attack, Assad is still in power, and an ominous nuclear deal has been signed with Iran. It is no wonder that there is a new kind of atmosphere in the region, under American auspices. There are no more good guys and bad guys; everyone is a partner. And thanks to this new reality, Assad now has a renewed license to rule, after having received a license to kill.
Washington is reaching out to Russia, which is openly helping Assad in Syria, who is working in conjunction with Iran, which in turn supports Hezbollah. Europe (Angela Merkel), in the meantime, startled by its refugee crisis, is already prepared to talk with Assad; the same Assad who was compared to Hitler only two years ago. But what about us, for heaven’s sake?
Regretfully, Israel’s biggest fears are now materializing. Instead of being the architects and shaping a new reality in the Middle East, Washington is falling into line with the existing reality. Russia, Syria and Iran are enjoying the consequent vacuum. When the cat is away, the mice will play. Now, all of a sudden, even Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah is letting himself go on television, beaming with joy. Aside from the 75 tanks Damascus is giving him, he now sees his two patrons (Damascus and Tehran) become partners with the West, without having to change one bit.
There is no diplomatic vacuum
The latest developments in Syria are not encouraging: Assad’s first target, with Russia’s help, is expected to be the Nusra Front rebel group, which not only threatens Assad but is also a bitter enemy of the Islamic State group. In other words, somewhat paradoxically, Islamic State could initially benefit from the Russian intervention in Syria.
And one final word about Iran’s rapprochement with the international community: We have been told repeatedly that this was only about the nuclear deal, but in reality we can see cooperation between the U.S. and Iran in Iraq and in the war against Islamic State. We can also see American-Iranian dialogue regarding Syria’s future, and on Saturday night we learned of a gigantic deal worth upwards of $21 billion between Iran and Russia. This time I am forced to agree with Secretary Kerry: This really does look like a Munich moment.