Photo: AP
ארכיון חיילים אמריקנים ארה"ב ב סוריה
Photo: AP
Shimon Shiffer

US leaves Israel to fight its battles alone

Op-ed: Is Trump really the friendliest American president Israel has ever had? After the withdrawal of US army from Syria, no one will have Israel's back except itself

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a predictable response to Washington's decision to pull all its forces from Syria. "We will make sure to maintain Israel's security and protect ourselves from this arena," he said. "We will know how to defend ourselves."



Just as well, really.



What US President Donald Trump did Wednesday—after declaring last month that American troops remain "in that part of the world" because of Israel—points to a dangerous shift in Israel's status in this regional jungle: Washington's rash decision might well come at our expense.


Putin and Trump in Helsinki, July 2018 (Photo: AFP)
Putin and Trump in Helsinki, July 2018 (Photo: AFP)


Let's start with the facts: Trump's America did not assassinate Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, unlike Obama's America, which successfully eliminated al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.


Netanyahu said Wednesday that Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had informed him in advance of the decision to leave Syria. So the question is: how does this move line up with the prime minister's claim that Trump is one of the friendliest American presidents Israel has ever had?


We can also wonder, has Netanyahu, who tried to convince us that he was the puppet master behind international leaders such as Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump, lost his magic touch? When Russia limited Israel's ability to defend itself against Iranian consolidation near the Syrian border, following the downing of the Russian plane, Putin made it very clear that he doesn't work for us.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Russian President Putin meet in Moscow in July 2018 (Photo: AFP)
Prime Minister Netanyahu and Russian President Putin meet in Moscow in July 2018 (Photo: AFP)

Trump is now responsible for abandoning Israel, which has to face Iranian aggression in the region alone. As long as Russia is the region's boss and there is no American deterrence in Syria, what is to prevent Iran and its heavily armed sidekick Hezbollah from turning the Syrian side of the Golan Heights into a military outpost?


The Americans' strategic umbrella has also weakened on the international stage. It is true that none of Israel's policymakers on defense are counting on American soldiers to fight for us, but there is no doubt that the Jewish state has enjoyed informing our enemies that in event of emergency, the Land of the Free stands with us.


The American move points to Washington's weakness, and perhaps even a betrayal of its allies. The Kurds in Syria are the first to be affected by the decision, for by pulling out of Syria, the US is essentially spilling the blood of allies who helped liberate swathes of the country from IS.


American troops in Syria (צילום: AP)
American troops in Syria (צילום: AP)

Jerusalem is also worried, with good reason. Netanyahu managed to prevent any Israeli intervention in the Syrian civil war, relying heavily on the American presence to ensure our interests. But now it seems that Netanyahu could've been wrong: Syria is being divvied up  between our bitterest enemies. They are sitting around the table and cutting the Syrian cake—and there is no one there to ensure Israel's interests.


One can only pray that changes are being made beneath the surface in this wild part of the world, perhaps in establishing new strategic alliances that might help Israel defend itself in the future. After all, today's enemies can still become our friends tomorrow.



פרסום ראשון: 12.20.18, 23:27
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