TLR 185- Mensis mirabilis (amazing month)
June 12, 2018
This issue is being published on a day everyone agrees is historic and amazing. President Trump’s meeting with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un meets any conceivable criterion for “historic”, “ground-breaking” and the numerous other titles being heaped upon it. It is also genuinely amazing (another term suffering from intense overuse), because this time last year it seemed more likely that the two leaders would scale up from hurling insults at each other to firing missiles at each other’s countries, than that they would switch to smiling at and complimenting each other — and conducting intensive discussions about the major issues dividing them.
Obviously, it is far too soon to know if this diplomatic breakthrough will lead to a treaty resolving some or all of those issues. However, it is already possible to say that a very fundamental — and entirely unexpected — change has taken place, the impact of which is already being felt all around the world.
Nevertheless, the amazing month referred to in the title of this issue is not June, but rather May and its focus is the Middle East, rather than the Far East. Several extraordinary events occurred in the region last month, some of them game-changers, others of more limited impact — but all of them positive for Israel’s geo-political situation. The need to analyse these developments and explain their importance has resulted in a longer-than-usual issue and the need to wait for the end of the Hamas campaign in Gaza has delayed its completion. But the picture is now clear and, whilst only a snapshot, it both permits and demands a comprehensive review of where things now stand and what changed to bring them to this point.
The primary focus is Israel’s confrontation with Iran. In military terms, this confrontation is playing out in Syria and the game-changing development that occurred in May was that Russia openly swung its support behind Israel in its efforts to prevent Iran from establishing itself in southern Syria. In a previous issue of The Landau Report, published last December, I pointed to this incipient Russian move and the rationale behind it. Now it is explicit.
No less far-reaching was the fact that, within days of each other, both Russia and the US separately declared their support for Israel vis-à-vis Iran in the Syrian arena. As far as I am aware, there has been no similar case of America and Russia both supporting the Israeli position (each for its own reasons), since the UN vote on the Palestine partition plan on November 30, 1947, which led to Israel’s creation.
May also saw the much-ballyhooed move of the American embassy to Jerusalem, itself an important Israeli diplomatic achievement. That and other military and diplomatic successes discussed in this issue are what made May a ‘mensis mirabilis’ for Israel — but for other countries, it seems that June will lay claim to that title.
A: Regional Developments
- An extraordinary month for Israel
- The northern front I: Russia changes sides
- The Syrian civil war, 2011-2017
- Israel-Russia 2013-2017
- Russia-Syria-Iran 2017
- Israel-Iran 2017-2018
- Israel-Russia 2018
- The northern front II: Iran under the cosh
- Israeli strikes, Russian ‘likes’
- American bites
- The northern front III: Dogs not barking in the night
- The southern front I: Ils ne passeront pas
- The southern front II: The limits of disproportionality
- Gaza is similar, but secondary
- Hamas: a weak pariah, but still irreplaceable