Angry over President Obama’s abandonment of Israel in the Iranian nuclear deal, several commentators are now proposing that Israel work with Russia in the Middle East for their mutual interests and concerns. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is too knowledgeable about the roots of international terrorism to fall into such a trap.
Caroline Glick, Director of the Israel Security Project at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and adjunct senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy, writes in The Jerusalem Post that while Israel can’t depend on the United States with Barack Obama as its president, Israel can work with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. She writes that “…we need to recognize that Russia is not the Soviet Union. Yes, Russia has superpower aspirations, which include projecting its power in the Middle East. But unlike the Soviet Union, Russia’s actions are not informed by an overarching world view that is inherently anti-Semitic.”
Let’s look at the record.
Putin is a former Soviet KGB colonel and his regime is based on the remnants of the old Soviet Union, including its military and intelligence establishment. In a very real sense, Russia is the Soviet Union. Russia sponsors Iran’s nuclear program and considers the regime a Russian ally in the Eurasian geopolitical project conceived by influential Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin. His vision of “Eurasianism” is a revival of the Russian empire that includes Islamic Iran. Dugin has explained in the article, “Eurasianism, Iran, and Russia’s Foreign Policy,” that a “strategic alliance” exists between Iran and Russia, and that Russia “will not cease its efforts to reduce sanctions against Iran” over its support for terrorism and pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Former KGB officer Konstantin Preobrazhensky says Dugin has been backed by the KGB and his vision is regarded as a replacement for, or supplement to, the old Soviet ideology. In fact, he writes that “the ideology of Eurasianism was developed by Soviet intelligence in the 1920s and seeded among the Russian immigrants in Europe.”
As noted by the anti-communist Brazilian writer Olavo de Carvalho, who has debated Dugin, the Jewish state is regarded by Dugin as “a modern capitalist and Atlantist entity and an ally of American imperialism.” This view helps explain why Moscow backs the government of Iran with weapons, nuclear technology and diplomatic support.
Glick writes, “Today Israel has only two threats that it really needs to worry about: the Iranian threat and the Palestinian threat to Jerusalem.” However, both of these threats are backed by Russia. Russia stands behind Iran as well as the Palestinian Authority, the governmental body of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
While Putin has refrained from open anti-Semitism, he made the controversial assertion that at least 80 percent of the members of the first Soviet government were Jewish—a claim exposed by Jewish journalist Yori Yanover as an anti-Semitic lie. A popular view held by so-called Russian nationalists is that communism was imposed on Russia by a conspiracy of Jewish bankers. Dugin was photographed meeting with former American Ku Klux Klan leader and neo-Nazi David Duke in Russia.
Glick argues that Israel and Russia can somehow come to an understanding about their mutual interests, and that Israel can help Russia “fight anti-Russian jihadists operating out of Syria.”
Pro-Israel commentator David Singer agrees, writing that “Russia and America now need to solely focus on defeating Islamic State—whilst putting their support for [Syrian dictator] Assad or his overthrow on the backburner until Islamic State is defeated.”
Russia is establishing major bases in Syria and doesn’t need any help in fighting those jihadists, should it want to do so. However, Russia has not joined the international coalition fighting Islamic State terrorists in Syria. In fact, there is substantial evidence of Russian involvement with those same jihadists, who are increasingly targeting Europe and the United States. It appears that at least one very important leader of the “anti-Russian Jihadists” is quite possibly a Russian agent.
On the surface, this seems strange, since some of the jihadists are fighting the Russian-backed government in Syria. But the dialectical approach to world events employed by Marxist-Leninists has been to manipulate both sides of a conflict, in order to come out on top. There is no reason to believe the Russians have discontinued this approach and have given up on the Arab and Islamic assets they maintained in the Middle East during the Soviet era.
Since the days of Lenin, the Russians considered Muslims of the world to be included in the “oppressed peoples” capable of being incited toward world revolution. Lenin told the Muslims in 1920, “Support, then, this Revolution and its sovereign Government. Comrades! Brothers! Let us march towards an honest and democratic peace. On our banners is inscribed the freedom of all oppressed peoples.”
In reality, the Muslims have been repressed and co-opted for the cause of world revolution. The Russians rule their Muslim-dominated region of Chechnya with an iron fist today. When you examine a list of countries where the thousands of Muslim refugees fleeing the Middle East want to go, Russia is not a place they seek or desire. Europe, especially Germany under Angela Merkel, has been far more accommodating toward this foreign invasion.
The Soviets created the PLO for the purpose of destroying Israel, but were also influential with al-Qaeda, whose current leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was trained by the KGB. The Iranian Ayatollah was trained by the Russians at Patrice Lumumba University.
An excellent analysis of the Soviet/Russian hand in the Middle East, “Do traces of KGB, FSB and GRU lead to Islamic State?,” was written by Marius Laurinavi?ius, a senior analyst at the Eastern Europe Studies Center. The acronyms represent Russian intelligence agencies.
To buttress her claim that the Russians are threatened by the jihadists in Syria, Glick writes that “One of Islamic State’s senior commanders in Syria is Tarkhan Batirashvili, a former Georgian special forces commander trained by the U.S. According to McClatchy, Batirashvili fought against the Russians in both South Ossetia and in Chechnya. In 2012 he traveled to Turkey where he joined other jihadists in founding IS. Today, Chechens form one of the largest groups of foreign fighters in Islamic State.”
The more thorough analysis provided by Laurinavi?ius looks at the evidence of how Tarkhan Batirashvili, also known as Abu Omar al-Shishani, is connected to the Russian secret services and is working on their behalf. It looks like the Russians may have flipped him at some point in his career.
Russian-speaking jihadists make up a significant number of foreign fighters in the Islamic State. One estimate puts their number at 800 to 1,500. But it appears they are leaving Russia with the cooperation of the authorities. A study by the Zurich-based Center for Security Studies says that while Russian anti-terrorism legislation makes it a criminal offense to participate in an armed group abroad “whose aims are contrary to Russian interests,” only one prosecution has been launched. This suggests the Russians joining the jihad are working on behalf of Russia and its interests.
The “anti-Russian Jihadists” seem to be extremely weak, in comparison to the anti-Western faction that makes news with kidnappings of Western hostages. The New York Times reported in October 2014 that a jihadist faction had shot dead a Russian hostage named Sergei Gorbunov, but questions soon emerged about the identity of the Russian and whether he did in fact exist or was killed.
Caroline Glick, an influential and highly respected columnist, should join with Laurinavi?ius in urging more research into the “KGB traditions” that authorize the Russians to use and direct their agents “towards weakening Western states” through the phenomenon of Arab and Islamic terrorism.
Since the Russians have dirty hands and appear to be playing both sides, a proposed deal between Israel and Russia would only benefit Russia and further damage Israeli and Western interests. Israel would be falling into a trap that would backfire on the Jewish state.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has extensive knowledge of the Soviet role in international terrorism, having edited or written the books, Terrorism: How the West Can Win (editor, 1987), and Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorism (1996).
It is significant that Netanyahu did not attend Russia’s victory parade on May 9 to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. And since that time, tensions have increased even further with Russia’s decision this month to ship its S-300 air-defense missile system to Iran. Such a system can be used to protect Iran’s nuclear facilities.
In regard to the September 21 “working visit” to Russia, Netanyahu’s office reports that he will discuss with Putin “the stationing of Russian forces in Syria” and “the threats posed to Israel as a result of the increased flow of advanced war materiel to the Syrian arena and the transfer of deadly weapons to Hezbollah and other terror organizations.”
Netanyahu surely recognizes the fact that Russia is not only behind Iran, but is also reinforcing Syria and various terrorist groups in the region, with the ultimate objective of targeting Israel for destruction. In blunt talk, Netanyahu can be expected to tell Putin that he understands that Soviet support for international terrorism and terrorist regimes has been replaced by Russian support of the same. Hence, Israel has to regard Russia has an avowed enemy of the Jewish state, even more dangerous than Iran, its sponsored terrorist groups, and the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.