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Wednesday, June 8, 2016, Jaistha 25, 1423 BS, Ramadan 2, 1437 Hijri

Netanyahu frequents Russia as US influence in Mideast recedes
Published :Wednesday, 8 June, 2016,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 8

MOSCOW, June 7 : With the Obama administration in its final months, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been a more frequent and feted visitor to Moscow than Washington, his eye on shifting big-power influence in the Middle East.
No one expects Netanyahu, who was hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday for the third time in the last year, to break up Israel's bedrock alliance with the United States. But he is mindful of Putin's sway in the Syrian civil war and other Middle East crises as the U.S. footprint in the region wanes.
"Netanyahu's not defecting, but what we see here is a bid to maneuver independently to promote Israel's interests," said Zvi Magen, a former Israeli ambassador to Russia now with Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies.
With Russian forces fighting alongside Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas to keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power, Putin is the closest thing to a guarantor that Israel's three most potent enemies will not attack it from the north.
He is also the first port of call for Netanyahu's argument that Assad's loss of central control vindicates Israel's de facto annexation of the Golan Heights in 1981, a move never recognized internationally. Israel took the area in a 1967 war.
Netanyahu can offer Putin reciprocal Israeli restraint in Syria, where Russia maintains a strategic Mediterranean base, and a chance to play a greater role in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking that has long been dominated by the United States.    ?REUTERS

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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