Why Israel Isn't Worried about Trump's Syria Withdrawal

(Bloomberg) Zev Chafets - The presence of 2,000 American troops in Syria has been helpful in blocking overland supply routes from Tehran to Iran's Lebanese proxy, Hizbullah; but they are, from Israel's point of view, not essential. Israel is waging its war on Hizbullah mostly from the air. What Netanyahu wants from Trump is not American troops in the neighborhood, but his support for Israel to have freedom of action in the skies of Syria and Lebanon, and perhaps western Iraq. With its air superiority, Israel can maintain red lines on the ground, preventing shipment of advanced Iranian weapons to Hizbullah via Damascus, preventing Iranian military installations in proximity to Israel, and, of course, preventing attacks on Israeli territory. Russia, which has installed new air defenses in Syria, has thus far respected Israeli security interests. An abrupt U.S. pullout from Syria would, of course, worry Israelis. But not overly, so long as America's greater commitment to Israel remains firm. There is no sign it won't. How the U.S. wields influence in the world matters more to Israelis than how it projects power in Syria. The writer served for five years as director of the Israel Government Press Office.

2019-01-08 00:00:00

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