Israel Looks to Russia as a Security Partner

American unreliability is forcing nations to look elsewhere for support.

The Middle East is undergoing its most consequential transition since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1917. Failure of the Arab Spring has resuscitated the jihadist claim that only violence can produce change in a region that’s stagnant politically and economically.

Faced with an upheaval so consequential, President Obama congratulates himself on defying the American foreign-policy establishment, which counsels a proactive American engagement. The establishment holds that American involvement would foster regional cooperation, reinforce our influence, and help pro-America governments redress their peoples’ grievances and protect their security. Obama takes a different tack: scolding friendly governments about their inadequacies and assisting the ambitions of our enemies. How else should countries in the region interpret his public advice to Saudi Arabia that it should learn to share the region with Iran? Evidently, the cataclysm of the Middle East is what “leading from behind” is supposed to produce.

Add to this Obama’s overt hostility to Prime Minister Netanyahu, his narrow focus on Iran’s nuclear-weapons program to the exclusion of the many other threats Iran is posing, and his manifest discomfort with the notion of using military force against Iran or Syria — discomfort even with the threats he himself has made and then gainsaid. Given all this, it is little wonder that Israel seeks a power other than the United States to rely on as a security partner.

American unreliability in the Obama era is creating new allegiances between Israel and its neighbors. Egypt is overtly cooperating with Israel to undermine terrorist influence in the Sinai. And yesterday, in another sign of the new compacts in the region, both Egypt and Saudi Arabia denounced the Palestinian terrorist attack in Tel Aviv; the prominent Saudi TV channel al-Arabiya condemned it as “terror and thuggery” and referred to the dead and wounded as “victims” rather than “settlers.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu has for years worked with the Russians to forestall delivery of S-400 air-defense systems to Iran (because they could prevent Israeli aircraft from getting through to attack the Iranian nuclear-weapons program). Russia’s intervention to save Assad’s government in Syria has positioned Russia at the nexus of Israel’s security concerns: Russia can influence Iran, Hezbollah, and Syria, the three forces of greatest concern in Israeli external-security calculations. Israel is by no means alone in reconsidering Russia as America stands aloof. Fellow autocrat President Erdogan of Turkey, Kurdistan’s regional government prime minister Nechirvan Barzani, and the Saudi government are also making overtures toward Russia.

Full article: Israel Looks to Russia as a Security Partner (The National Review)

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