What we are seeing in the media as the week begins on April 9th is a frantic and frustrated Russia. The narrative was sailing along so smoothly; US President Trump had let it slip that he wants out of Syria sooner rather than later, most of Ghouta had surrendered and there were talks happening with remaining pockets. And then a chemical weapon was used and now all hell has broken loose.
The reaction was swift, but it didn’t come from the direction most observers were expecting. The smart money, including Russia’s, was that the strikes would come from the Americans or possibly even the French, but both denied it. Though Jerusalem has not confirmed it, most of the players involved suspect the Israelis actually struck Assad and they informed the Americans beforehand. Israel was believed to have already hit this particular place in February, known as T-4, so, this was likely seen as a two birds, one stone type of situation.
What has Russia’s panties in a bunch is that they weren’t informed prior to the strike while the Americans were. Apparently, Moscow is feeling really left out about the whole thing but can’t bluster and bristle at the Israelis because they didn’t hurt any Russians and they look weak making threats rational people know they won’t follow through on. But the Russians are likely to move on pretty quickly from this slight as President Trump has announced he will make a decision on how to respond to Bashar Al Assad in the next “24-48 hours”.
Did the Israelis do humanity a huge favor? It’s likely to have been a factor. The Israelis provided medic aid to opposition forces, even those with ties to Islamists. And they didn’t mean to thumb their nose at the Russians any more than they meant to please Trump. Israel acts alone. Always has and likely always will. They’re really good at sharing, but not so keen on cooperation.
Their number one priority in this situation is brushing back Iran who is creeping towards the Golan Heights hoping to settle a 40-year-old grievance and Russia does not appear to be interested in that headache. The region is as tense as it’s been in quite some time.