Russia's latest move is deployment of its largest-ever force of ground troops to Syria. With the possibility of more to come, 1,000 troops on their way are not common soldiers. They are special forces, and they come from Chechnya. Like the luminary that informed wise men two thousand years ago, Moscow's star is rising from the north. It is not the same star, however. And its message is quite different.
Although unacknowedged by Jersualem, everyone knows that Israel has recently engaged in an air raid campaign against targets in Syria. So far, it includes two bombing runs last week, and one yesterday morning. Why is Israel doing this, and why now? On Wednesday, without confirming the Israeli sorties, the nation's Defense Minister explained why they are taking place.
The US-led coalition to liberate Mosul from ISIS has petered out. ISIS leaders and troops are strolling back into town without a fight. Meanwhile in Aleppo, ISIS is on the run from a Moscow-Tehran coalition. Why has the US op failed? And when Trump inherits the problem, Jerusalem wonders, will he turn the entire fight against Islamic State over to Putin, and by default Iran?
The war in Syria is moving south, toward Jerusalem, and with an international coalition of stunning strength. That coalition includes the the first-ever Shiite army which is also a foreign legion. Expected to number 50-70,000, it is shifting the focus of soldiers from political and tribal allegiances to a single religious identity.
Iran's vision for its future is vast. The "territory" it forsees as its own will require naval bases in Syria, Yemen, the Indian Ocean, and on manmade islands. Establishing these bases, it says, is "ten times more important than nuclear power."