The Syrian government’s planned offensive against rebels in their nation’s southwest is a potentially volatile matter, particularly with Israel on the warpath. Yet reports suggest virtually unprecedented indirect talks between Israel and Iran aim to avoid any accidental escalations.
The reports, emerging from the Saudi media, say that Jordan is facilitating the talks at an Amman hotel. Iranian officials are in one room, and Israeli officials are in an adjacent one, with Jordanian mediators carrying messages back and forth.
The plan, as it is starting to take shape, is that Iran will not participate in this offensive by the Syrian military. Israeli officials have suggested there are circumstances in which they would not intervene, but demanded Iran ensure no Shi’ite militias take part at all.
It’s not clear that Iran can deliver that. Despite Israel presenting Shi’ite militias as “Iranian troops” in their statements, most of the militia fighters are not from Iran, nor under any sort of direct Iranian control. It may be desirable for Syria to find a way to keep them sidelined, however, if it means Israel doesn’t meddle in an important southern offensive.