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03/24/2019

Could US recognition of Golan Heights as part of Israel lead to War?

Could US recognition of Golan Heights as part of Israel lead to War?

Donald Trump said via Twitter that it was time for the USA to «fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and regional stability».

Between the 5th and 10th of June 1967, during a war called the Six-Day War, Israel occupied 1200 Square kilometers of the western part of 1800 square kilometer area known as the Syrian Golan Heights.

The UN Security Council  issued resolution 242 on November 22, 1967, which insisted on the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East in which every State in the area can live in security” and also stated the demand for the

(i) Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the 1967 conflict;

(ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.

In a move condemned by Council resolution 497, Israel fully annexed the Syrian occupied Golan Heights in 1981.

Since the onset of the Syrian Civil War, the eastern Golan Heights have become a scene of continuous battles between the Syrian Arab Army, rebel factions of the Syrian opposition, and Islamist and Jihadist factions including the Al-Nusra Front and ISIL affiliated militants.

Israel not only never denied helping the terrorist groups fighting against the Syrian government, Netanyahu was even proud to show off hosting wounded opposition fighters in Israeli hospitals built in the Golan Heights.

Israel believed that it could create a buffer zone between their troops and Syrian Army troops on the other side and maintain safety for itself.

The Israelis have always been afraid that the Hezbollah fighters who were able to force them out of Lebanon might get close to the Golan Heights and gather Syrian fighters to build resistance forces against the Israel occupation.

Since Israel occupied these territories a long debate has ensued: can these territories be released by peaceful means or not?

While for many years pro-Israeli media was able to convince many Arabs that Israeli Army cannot be defeated and the only way to free the occupied lands is to take the path of Egypt and sign a peace accord with Israel, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which was backed by Iran, was able to prove that Israel could be defeated and that occupied land can only be freed by military resistance.

In 2000, Israel was forced to withdraw from Lebanese territories due to the fact that the Israeli army couldn’t handle any more casualties from Lebanese Resistance attacks.

According to Israeli Prime minister, Israel launched more than 200 airstrikes against the Syrian territories in the Golan Heights and the Syrian Army didn’t respond because it didn’t want to fight on two fronts.

When the Israelis asked for a buffer zone free of Iran and its allies close to the Golan Heights, the Russians helped to establish one without any official agreement.

Many Syrians have hoped that their occupied territories would be freed in one way or another. Israel’s obstinance in annexing these territories has always given them some kind of a hope to keep to unofficial peace accords and work based on UN Security Council resolutions.

Now, as President Trump comes out tweeting that it is time for the US to recognize ‘Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights’ all hopes for freeing the occupied area are falling by the wayside and the voice of those believing that the only way to free the occupied lands is through military resistance is rising.

Some believe that the reason Trump took this step was his need to secure the support of the Israeli Lobby in the upcoming elections.

Others believe that Netanyahu is losing popularity inside Israel and he is facing a potential big loss in this year’s elections, so he needs a favor from Trump.

The main issue is that with Trump’s move to implement his tweet, tensions on the borders with the Golan Heights may rise and Syrians will start to move towards freeing their land by military resistance.

Throughout the past weeks many countries, especially Russia, have initiated moves to de-escalate the situation there and tried to convince Iran and its allies to keep their distance from Golan heights while getting guarantees from the Israeli and American side that no more attacks will target Iranian or Syrian troops in Syria, but with this tweet Trump has set everything on fire.

The Iranians are now trying to convince Syrians that the only way to free their lands and to force Israel from denying their sovereignty is through answering the Israeli attack by firing five rockets for every Israeli rocket, as Admiral Ali Shamkhani Secretary General of Iranian Supreme National Council said.

The Iranians wouldn’t need to make a huge effort to convince Syrian government that they should retaliate against Israeli attacks and many young Syrian men are ready to join any resistance group asking to free Golan Heights.

In this case, it is possible that Syrian resistance groups will be established and attacks against Israeli troops in Golan Heights will take place, exactly the same way Hezbollah launched attacks against Israeli troops in Lebanon, and if the Israelis retaliate against them on Syrian soil, the Syrian army would hit back again, five to one as Shamkhani said.

These actions could not only raise tensions and lead to small skirmishes in the region but may even lead to an all-out war. While this war would be easy to start, it is difficult to imagine how it could be brought to an end.

It seems that as long as the situation is politically expedient, and as long as US weapons continue to be sold, those in power will not care that Muslims, Jews and Christians may lose their lives as a result of a tweet.

 
Emad Abshenass
Journalist, writer and Political Science professor (Iran)

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