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

Israel seized the Golan Heights—an area whose Jewish history goes back to biblical times—from Syria during the Six-Day War and formally applied Israeli law there in 1981. While the U.S. has from time to time encouraged or pressured Jerusalem to enter negotiations for returning the territory to Damascus, any such idea, given Syria’s current state of affairs, is at present a nonstarter. Therefore, argue Moshe Ya’alon and Yair Lapid, it’s high time for Washington, and the rest of the world, to recognize Israeli sovereignty there:

The Golan Heights is . . . a mountainous region of around 695 square miles in the north of Israel. It’s worth noting, of course, that [the region] is entirely unrelated to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians. Not a single Palestinian lives there. . . . The Syrians . . . ruled over the Golan Heights for only 21 years, from 1946 and 1967. During those years they turned the Golan into a military base, rained rocket fire on the Israeli communities [below], and tried to divert Israel’s critical water sources. . . .

In the 51 years [it has controlled the area], Israel developed the Golan Heights and turned it into an impressive center of nature reserves and tourism, with high-tech agriculture, award-winning wines, a flourishing food-tech industry, and in-demand boutique hotels. The Druze population of the Golan Heights, who make up about half the population, were granted all the same rights as all other citizens of Israel. . . .

On the other side of the border, life went in the other direction; in the past seven years President Assad has massacred over a half-million of his own people and [caused] the displacement of eleven million more. He let the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hizballah, the largest terror organizations in the world, into Syria. He encouraged Shiite militias from Iraq and elsewhere to flood into his country. . . .

The man who didn’t hesitate to use chemical weapons against women and children continues to demand the Golan Heights in the name of “international law.” The fact that anyone in the Western world still takes that argument seriously is worse than naïve—it’s insane. Does his monstrous behavior have no cost? . . . The international community, led by the United States, needs to do the simple thing: to announce that they see the world as it is.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Bashar al-Assad, Druze, Golan Heights, Israel & Zionism, Syrian civil war

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela