Mossad chief leads delegation to brief White House on Syria
search

Mossad chief leads delegation to brief White House on Syria

Teams set to discuss the Trump-Putin brokered ceasefire, which Israel has condemned as emboldening Iran

Head of Mossad Yossi Cohen speaks at the launch event for Libertad foundation. June 27, 2017. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Head of Mossad Yossi Cohen speaks at the launch event for Libertad foundation. June 27, 2017. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen will lead an Israeli delegation of defense officials to brief the White House later this week on the security situation in Syria, the Haaretz daily reported Monday.

Cohen will be joined by Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi and the director of the Defense Ministry’s Political-Military Affairs Bureau, Zohar Palti.

The group will meet with US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, deputy national security adviser Dina Powell, Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt and other senior officials, the report said.

The sit-down was orchestrated by US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

US President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)
US President Donald Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

“Talks will focus on Israel’s security needs vis-a-vis Syria and Lebanon, and will not deal with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process,” a White House official told Haaretz.

The teams are expected to discuss the ceasefire agreement in southern Syria that was brokered by Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came out against the agreement announced on July 7, saying that it does not sufficiently address Iranian military ambitions in the area.

The condemnation presented a rare case of the prime minister at odds with the US president. Netanyahu told journalists that the agreement perpetuates Iranian plans to set up a disruptive long-term presence on Israel’s northern border, something he has repeatedly vowed that the Jewish state won’t abide.

Israel has repeatedly said it will not allow Iran to establish a permanent presence in Syria. Israel has also carried out a number of airstrikes in Syria against suspected shipments of “game-changing” weapons bound for Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia.

Security officials have warned that Tehran may use the area of western Iraq and eastern Syria as a “land bridge” to transfer fighters and weaponry to Lebanon.

The ceasefire was the first initiative by the Trump administration in collaboration with Russia to bring some stability to war-torn Syria.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech during a support gathering by Likud party members and activists at the Tel Aviv Convention Center on August 9, 2017. (AFP/Jack GUEZ)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech during a support gathering by Likud party members and activists at the Tel Aviv Convention Center on August 9, 2017. (AFP/Jack GUEZ)

Apprehensions over Iranian designs in the region were stoked by recent movements of Shiite Muslim militias — loyal to Iran and fighting alongside Syrian government forces — toward Jordan’s border with Syria, and to another strategic area in the southeast, close to where the two countries meet Iraq.

The advances are part of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s push to regain territory from rebel groups, some backed by the West, in the southern Daraa province, and from Islamic State extremists in the southeast, near the triangle with Iraq.

But Syria’s neighbors suspect that Iran is pursuing a broader agenda, including carving out a land route through Syria that would create a territorial continuum from Iran and Iraq to Lebanon.

The ceasefire for southern Syria is meant to keep all forces pinned to their current positions, said Jordan’s government which participated in the talks. This would prevent further advances by forces under Iran’s command, including Hezbollah.

read more:
comments