After Strikes on Syria, Will Anything Change?

April 16 2018

While the coordinated American, British, and French attack on Syria may hinder Bashar al-Assad’s ability to use chemical weapons and deter him from using them in the future, and have shown the weakness of Russian-manufactured air defenses, Yoav Limor suspects they won’t alter the overall situation, or improve Israel’s position:

[T]he element of surprise was . . . missing and the entire endeavor was seemingly geared toward achieving the bare minimum. The scope of the attack was obvious to everyone. . . . As a result, the Western trio squandered an opportunity to reshape the rules of the game in Syria. . . . Russia’s regional superiority received a renewed stamp of approval, and Moscow could respond by imposing harsher restrictions on foreign activity in Syria—with an emphasis on Israel—so as not to disturb it from reaping the fruits of economic rehabilitation. Assad, for his part, understands that the world will not stop him from retaking control of his country, still bleeding from seven years of civil war.

Consequently, the only player left wanting is Israel, which remains alone in the fight against the forces of evil amassing in the northern sector. Friday’s report in the Israeli media—that the drone launched by Iran into Israel on February 10 was armed with explosives—was not a coincidence. Its purpose was to illustrate how the Iranians are dragging the region toward conflagration, against everyone’s interests—including [those of] Russia and Assad. . . .

Israeli officials believe Iran is preparing its response to last week’s [presumed Israeli] airstrike targeting a drone base it is building in northern Syria. . . . Assuming Russia doesn’t pose any restrictions, Israel poses a clear threat to Iran—not only can it retaliate to aggression with extreme force, it has the power to . . . eradicate Iran’s entire military operation in Syria.

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More about: Bashar al-Assad, Iran, Israeli Security, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy

 

The U.S. Should Recognize Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan Heights

July 19 2018

Since the 1970s, American governments have sporadically pressured Jerusalem to negotiate the return of the Golan to Syria in exchange for peace. Had Israel given up this territory, Iranian forces would now be preparing to establish themselves on its strategically advantageous high ground. Michael Doran, testifying before the House of Representatives, argues that for this and other reasons, Congress should recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan. (Video is available at the link below.)

Between 1949 and 1967, [the period during which Syria held the Golan], thousands of clashes erupted [there]. By contrast, ever since Israel took control of the Golan Heights in June 1967, they have served as a natural buffer between the two belligerents. The last 70 years serve as a laboratory of real life, and the results [of the experiment conducted therein] are incontrovertible: when in the hands of Syria, the Golan Heights promoted conflict. When in the hands of Israel, they have promoted stability. . . .

From the outbreak of the [Syrian] civil war, Iran and Russia have worked aggressively to shape the conflict so as to serve their interests. The influence of Iran is particularly worrisome because, in the division of labor between Moscow and Tehran, Russia provides the air power while Iran provides much of the ground forces. . . . Thanks to Iran’s newfound ground presence [in Syria], it is well on the way to completing a so-called “land bridge” stretching from Tehran to Beirut. There can be no doubt that a major aim of the land bridge is to increase the military pressure on Israel (and Jordan, too). . . .

Would Americans ever consciously choose to place Iranian soldiers on the Golan Heights, so that they could peer down their riflescopes at Jewish civilians below? Is there any American interest that would be served by allowing Iran to have direct access to the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s primary water reservoir? Would it ever be wise to place Iranian troops [where they could] serve as a wedge between Jordan and Israel? The answer to all of these questions, obviously, is no. And the clearest way to send that message to the world is to pass a law recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

As for the claim that the Jewish state’s seizure of the Golan in 1967 violates international law, Doran notes that Washington undermined this claim with its attempts in the 1990s to broker a deal between Jerusalem and Damascus:

The ready American (and Israeli) acceptance of the June 4, 1967 cease-fire line [as the basis for such a deal] is nothing short of startling. That line . . . leaves Syria in possession of territory along the shores of the Sea of Galilee and elsewhere that it acquired by force in 1948. In other words, to win over its enemy, [Syria], the Clinton administration dispensed with the principle of the impermissibility of the acquisition of territory by force—the very principle that the United States has remained ever-vigilant in applying to its ally, Israel.

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More about: Congress, Golan Heights, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy