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Trump’s support of Israel’s annexation of the Golan

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Washington DC, March 26 — On March 25, President Donald J. Trump signed an order proclaiming U.S. support for Israel’s annexation of the Golan. This act ended Washington’s opposition to any acquisition of territory by force– a principle that has been a key pillar of the global order since the United Nations was founded in 1945.

It also raised the prospect that Washington’s support for Israel’s other major act of Anschluss (= annexation)– that of Greater East Jerusalem, which Israel announced in 1967– may not be far behind.

This is far from the first time that Trump has upended long-held principles of U.S. foreign policy or international law. But with many still awaiting the long-delayed release of details of his “deal of the century” for Arab-Israeli peace, Trump’s open embrace of Israel’s Anschluss of the Golan just about guarantees that this new peace effort will be dead on arrival, if not aborted before birth.  

Governments key to the “deal of the century” having any success or even credibility, such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, and the EU, were swift to come out and criticize Trump’s support for the Golan Anschluss.

Washington’s new policy on Golan may well now allow the US company Genie Energy to go ahead and plunder the oil and gas reserves that its Israeli subsidiary discovered in Golan in 2015. (Genie’s “Strategic Advisory Board” includes former VP Dick Cheney, misogynistic Birthright co-founder Michael Steinhardt, and Rupert Murdoch…)

Trump’s step changes the political dynamic within Syria, too.

The neoconservative target on Syria

Independent Syria has long been in the cross-hairs of the many Zionist extremists and neoconservatives who wield such power in US politics. Syria has been subjected to U.S. sanctions continuously since 1979. In the mid-1990s, when key neoconservatives released their landmark document on the Middle East, “A Clean Break”, it argued mainly for two policy changes: a “break” from Washington’s longheld support of the principle of “land for peace”, and the overthrow of central government power in Syria.

Syria was for long clearly identified as the neocons’ main target– much more so than Iraq, though in 2002-3 they lined up in droves to push for the invasion of chronically sanctions-weakened Iraq first… with many arguing strongly that the next destination after Baghdad should be Damascus.

When Barack Obama became president in 2009, he was given a good chance to de-escalate the continuing tensions with Syria. I know, because I was part of a discreet “Track Two” effort to achieve this. Obama turned down the opportunity. He rejected the minor, “confidence-building” measures our US-Syrian group had proposed, for both sides, and chose to continue Washington’s generous funding of Syrian oppositionists, instead.

In 2011, those US-funded oppositionists latched onto anti-government protests emerging in some Syrian cities. Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were then quick to issue calls for the complete overthrow of the Syrian government. They also (with the CIA’s help) arranged huge amounts of the weapons seized from Libya’s former arsenals to be sent to Syria’s very speedily militarized opposition. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates were also massive participants in this “Syrian Contras” effort; but Washington’s support for the regime-change project in Syria was always also crucial.

Throughout the Obama years, whenever the UN or other bodies proposed a negotiated way to end Syria’s civil war and its horrors, those efforts met with Washington’s blunt and breathtakingly imperialistic insistence that the Syrian president “must leave now,” before there could be any negotiations. Throughout those years, too, jihadi extremists from around the world crossed into Syria to join up with either ISIS (which Washington opposed) or with the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra and its many satellites, which had completely taken over Syria’s opposition movement and which Washington was powerless to oppose.

Throughout those years, Israel became increasingly active inside Syria. It provided arms and support to some of the Syrian Contra units fighting in the south of Syria—and it used the air superiority it enjoyed until recently over all of Syria and Lebanon to launch scores of bombing raids against targets deep inside Syria. (The increased military support that Syria has received since late 2015 from its longtime ally, Russia, helped shift the dynamic on the ground in Syria in the government’s favor; and more recently, Russia has also bolstered Syria’s air defenses.)

Throughout the years of Syria’s civil war, Israel became increasingly bold inside occupied Golan as well.

The Israeli occupation of the Golan

The record of Israel’s occupation of the Golan is generally little known in the West. Golan is a region that runs east from the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, up a steep escarpment, to a broad, fertile plateau skirted by amply rainfed slopes. Before the Israeli military occupied Golan in a surprise maneuver in 1967, it had a population of around 140,000. At and after the time of the IDF’s invasion, some 130,000 of those residents fled or were chased out. You can still see some of their deserted villages along the roads there, today.

In 1968, Israel’s Labour government started building settlements in Golan. At the beginning, they were not viewed as necessarily permanent—more as bargaining chips for a future negotiation. The vast majority of the early settlers there were (unlike those in the West Bank) Labour supporters. They were only too happy to take their families to those beautiful plateaus whose long-established cherry and apple orchards and vineyards were all there for the easy picking…

The small number of Golani Syrians who resolutely stayed in their homes were nearly all residents of five predominantly Druze villages clustered on the slopes of Jebel Al-Shaikh (sometimes known as “Mount Hermon”). When I visited Golan in 1998, some of the elders told me they had abiding folk memories of the uprising the Druze had launched against the French in 1927. They said their community had learned then that staying in place during surrounding strife is nearly always the best policy.

Today, there are some 25,000 Syrian citizens still living in occupied Golan, along with roughly the same number of Israeli settlers. The Israeli settlements are spread out broadly across the stolen lands of the departed Syrians, while the “occupied” Syrians have their access to land and water sharply curtailed.

As for the large numbers of Syrians displaced in 1967, they had fled deeper into Syria. Since they never crossed an international border they were known as “internally displaced people” (IDP’s, or in Arabic nazeheen) and they never showed up on any UN rosters as “refugees.” Today, they and their descendants number some 700,000. They all still have deeds and keys to the homes and farms they were displaced from in 1967.

In 1981, the Israeli Knesset formally annexed Golan. The following year, the Israeli authorities tried to force the “occupied” Syrian citizens still living in Golan to take Israeli citizenship. The Golani Syrians refused. But they’ve had Israel’s “Druze education” system and numerous other onerous regulations forced onto them.

The Israeli military also has numerous bases in the Golan. In some of these, it almost certainly stores nuclear-capable “Jericho-2” missiles. From others, perched high on Jebel al-Shaikh, it is capable of looking deep into all the rest of Syria.

The global response?

Trump’s decision to give official US support to Israel’s Anschluss in Golan was almost certainly intended as a big political gift to Benjamin Netanyahu as he enters the final weeks of Israel’s current election. It is a gift, too, of course, to all the rapacious investors and resource-thieves lining up with Genie Energy (and the settler-run “Golani” winemakers) who are only too eager to make mega-profits from Golan’s looted natural bounty.

The big question, regarding this latest strong pro-Israel lurch in US policy as with Trump’s earlier decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, is what the rest of the global community will do about it?

We know the Security Council will be shamefully unable to act on this matter because of Washington’s veto. But what can other parts of the UN, other international institutions (including financial institutions), other governments, and international civil society do to hamper the plots of Genie Engineering and its associated, and to protect the rights of the Golani Syrians who still live in Golan, the Golani Syrians exiled from it—and the rest of Syria’s citizens who have the right to have a country that is whole, free, and at peace?

A good first step is to commit to learning about Syria’s history and current situation in its own terms, rather than in the cartoonish, “demonic” way they have been portrayed in most of the Western discourse for far too long. Another is to be sure to include the issue of Golan and protecting the rights of the Syrian Golanis in all the efforts of the worldwide BDS movement. And just as legal steps are now being taken against those entities profiting off resources stolen from within the West Bank, so too should extensive legal measures be launched against all entities stealing resources from Golan. International law demands no less. (Indeed, in the face of Trump’s blatant lawbreaking, it demands far more.)

Helena Cobban

Helena Cobban is the President of Just World Educational (JWE), a non-profit organization, and the CEO of Just World Books. She has had a lengthy career as a journalist, writer, and researcher on international affairs, including 17 years as a columnist on global issues for The Christian Science Monitor. Of the seven books she’s published on international affairs, four have been on Middle Eastern topics. This new series of commentaries she’s writing, “Story/Backstory”, will have an expanded audio component published in JWE’s podcast series. They represent her own opinion and judgments, not those of any organization.

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56 Responses

  1. bcg on March 26, 2019, 2:09 pm

    Even Tom Friedman doesn’t think Trump’s support for Israel is a good thing!

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/25/opinion/trump-congress-israel.html

    “Everyone is getting what they want, at the expense of the Jewish state.”

    • Misterioso on March 27, 2019, 9:59 am

      https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-golan-heights-tweet-disregards-history-law-and-ethics/

      “Trump’s Golan Heights Tweet Disregards History, Law and Ethics”
      TRUTHOUT, March 24/19 – by Noura Erekat.

      “On March 22, 2019, President Donald Trump unceremoniously tweeted that the United States would recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Syrian Golan Heights. He explained that such sovereignty ‘is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and regional stability.’ Everything about this tweet is wrong – as a matter of law, policy and fact.

      “The Golan Heights, located in the southwest of Syria, was seized by Israel during the 1967 War when, in the course of six days, Israel also came to control Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula as well as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The United Nations, which was in session during the war, deliberated the matter for nearly six months. Controversy revolved around whether Israel should be compelled to withdraw from the Arab territories immediately or whether it could, as the Lyndon B. Johnson administration urged, be able to retain them as consideration in exchange for permanent peace. Despite Syrian and Palestinian opposition, in 1967 the Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 242, which established the land-for-peace framework sought by the United States and Israel that declared that the territories would be returned in exchange for permanent peace.

      “The Resolution proved ineffective due to a lack of political will to establish peace together with Israel’s desire to retain the territories. The Israeli government developed this legal argument: Because no sovereign existed in the West Bank and Gaza – Egypt and Jordan never had legitimate title and Palestinians were not sovereigns – no country could claim better title to the territory than could Israel. Thus, Israeli officials argued, the West Bank and Gaza could not be occupied as a matter of law and are better described as ‘disputed’ rather than occupied territories. This novel legal argument enabled Israel to establish legal presence as a military authority in the Palestinian territory adhering strictly to Occupation Law, most notably its proscription on civilian settlement. This enabled Israel to fulfill its settler-colonial territorial ambitions by incrementally taking Palestinian lands under the framework of military necessity without the Palestinian people on them.

      “Unlike the Palestinian territories, the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights were never disputed as no one questioned Egyptian and Syrian sovereignty, respectively. Still, even there, Israel refused to recognize the territory as occupied as a matter of law. The framework established by UNSC Resolution 242 proved untenable and in October 1973, Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel in the hopes of recouping their territories. While Israel ultimately prevailed in the war, Egypt and Syria won psychologically. Their victory compelled the passage of Security Council Resolution 338, which established a ceasefire and catalyzed a U.S.-led Middle East Peace Process to return the Arab territories for peace. Palestinians would not be recognized as legitimate representatives to negotiate the return of the West Bank and Gaza until 1991 and Syria continued to object to the terms of negotiations, which legitimated Israel’s defensive claims in the region and prioritized its rejection of Palestinian sovereignty.

      “In 1979, Israel and Egypt, the largest Arab country, agreed to the Camp David Accords, which facilitated the return of the Sinai to Egypt and normalized Egyptian-Israeli relations. Significantly, the Accords signaled that no Arab army would wage a conventional war against Israel as Egypt had established permanent peace and Syria would not go to war alone. Two years later, in 1981, Israel unilaterally annexed the Golan Heights. The Ronald Reagan administration rebuked Israel’s annexation and declared it ‘null and void,’ not least because it violates the international principle prohibiting the acquisition of territory by force. Since the early 1990s, Israel and Syria have engaged in several peace talks over the Golan Heights but they have each crumbled over Israel’s refusal to return to the 1967 lines. Doing so would mean relinquishing Israel’s access to a key water source in the Sea of Galilee, which provides the country with one-third of its fresh water supply.

      “President Trump’s announcement earlier this week disregards this history, relevant international law, as well as long-standing U.S. policy.

      “The Trump administration, together with Israel, has claimed that the Golan Heights serve a security interest, but that is plainly untrue. Israel has established 34 settlements in the Golan Heights and settled nearly 20,000 Israeli civilians. If indeed the territory is a defensive buffer against Syrian attack, then Israel is using its own civilian population as a human shield. And if it is safe for the civilians to live there, then it is not a defensive buffer. More, Israel maintains nearly 167 businesses in the Golan Heights, including the only ski resort available to Israelis. Additionally, Jordan established permanent peace with Israel in 1994 and so, along with Egypt, poses no military threat; Syria has not waged war since 1973; and the two other countries that have historically threatened Israel — Libya and Iraq — have both been decimated in U.S.-led or supported wars. Hezbollah, whom Israel claims is a proxy military force for Iran, has not even initiated war from Lebanon, where it is based, even after the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon in 2000. The one large-scale war since then was initiated by Israel after Hezbollah conducted a cross-border raid to capture three Israeli soldiers it intended to exchange for Hezbollah prisoners of war. There is no credible military threat to Israel from Syria’s southern border.

      “The primary reason for the U.S. announcement is domestic: Trump is speaking to his evangelical base, which covets Israel as a matter of prophecy and ideology. American Evangelicals consider the in-gathering of a global Jewry in Israel as the prerequisite element to beget Armageddon and the return of Christ. Ideologically, they consider Israel as the eastern-most front in the U.S.’s so-called war on terror stemming not only attacks but, perhaps more significantly, the migration of Muslims to the West.

      “The announcement is a boon for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is mired in fraud and corruption allegations only three weeks ahead of Israeli elections. Trump’s announcement serves as an effective deflection from his domestic problems and tells a center-right Israeli base that voting for him means fulfilling Israel’s territorial ambitions. Israeli society considers the Golan Heights to be part of Israel. Trump’s announcement at the height of a tense campaign signals that a vote for Netanyahu is a vote for strongman Trump, who disdains international law and diplomacy in favor of a policy of ‘might makes right.’

      “The effect of Trump’s announcement is contingent upon the international response. Trump certainly has the executive authority to recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel’s sovereignty, even in contravention of international law, but U.S. recognition is not tantamount to a shift in the territory’s status quo. So far there has been broad denunciation of the U.S.’s announcement, from the United Nations and among several states including Egypt and Russia. While that condemnation is welcome, it is also not enough. It is crucial that the international community demonstrate its opposition in the form of more coercive sanctions, but such a response is unlikely if the tacit acceptance of the U.S.’s embassy move to Jerusalem is any indication. Indeed, in May 2017, the Trump administration moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in similar contravention of Security Council Resolution 242, disregarding the principle prohibiting the acquisition of territory by force. Although 128 countries condemned the U.S. move in a UN resolution, and few other countries followed suit and moved their embassies, Israel has faced no consequences for its ongoing settlement of East Jerusalem and the ethnic cleansing of its Palestinian inhabitants. In fact, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the Western Wall in East Jerusalem last week – the first for a U.S. official — reifying the U.S.’s policy shift in a similar bid to support Netanyahu’s re-election campaign.

      “This abysmal situation underscores the urgency of a global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, which at least since 2005 has been a grassroots effort to overcome diplomatic intransigence. We must remember that this is not just about Israel but also about the U.S.’s imperial wars in the Middle East, its attack on internationalism (i.e., threats against the International Criminal Court and pulling out of the Paris Climate Protocol) as well as its ongoing structural violence against minorities, Indigenous nations, refugees and women in the United States. Israel is part of a broader constellation constituting U.S. interests the world over.

      “Trump’s Golan Heights announcement is not just a threat to the Middle East — it’s a threat to the whole world because it reifies policies of racial supremacy and fascism. The response to it should be similarly global among people who oppose these violent trends in their communities and across the world.”
      _______________________________________________________________________________
      Noura Erakat is a human rights attorney and Assistant Professor at George Mason University. She is the author of Justice for Some: Law in the Question of Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2019).

      • Maghlawatan on April 4, 2019, 1:42 pm

        Israelis don’t do responsibility.

        Might is right is a stupid doctrine for a country that hides behind the US veto.

        The history of the Crusader State shows that qualitative military advantages are time limited. Injustice now increases the chances of Israel being wiped from the map down the line.

        Zionist political leadership is atrocious and has been for some time.

    • oldgeezer on April 4, 2019, 12:45 pm

      Unbelievable.

      Are Israelis or zionists responsible for anything? Do they have any agency at all?

      I’m certainly no fan of Trump or a lot of other former presidents.

      But friedman’s inclination is to blame the US for the path that Israel is following.

      Damn those Israeli’s must be the most stupid people in the world. They’re constantly getting into trouble due to someone else. How many times have I heard that Israel fell for Hamas ruse. It was a ploy to make us look bad!!

      Codswallop…. They have agency.They have responsibility. Long overdue for accountability because of that.

  2. annie on March 26, 2019, 3:56 pm

    “at the expense of the Jewish state”

    please!!!

  3. annie on March 26, 2019, 4:03 pm

    can this golan recognition be reversed by a future president? can the embassy be moved back to tel aviv with another president?

    • Talkback on March 26, 2019, 9:18 pm

      To re-reverse it would make the US an even bigger joke than it allready is.

    • echinococcus on March 26, 2019, 9:56 pm

      “can this golan recognition be reversed by a future president?”

      No need. As opposed to the embassy site determination (1995) this is null and void by definition. The US has no jurisdiction outside its own borders and embasssies.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on March 27, 2019, 7:13 am

      Theoretically yes, but do you really think any president would dare take on the lobby like that?

    • pjdude on March 28, 2019, 4:58 pm

      well yes considering this is illegal for trump to do under us law

  4. Citizen on March 26, 2019, 4:23 pm

    Good , informative article! Thanks, Ms. Cobban. I will spread it around the internet in appropriate places.

  5. echinococcus on March 26, 2019, 7:18 pm

    Annie,

    “can this be reversed with another president?”

    Once again, the criminal against humanity who signed the Jerusalem Embassy Act is called Barack Obama.

    • annie on March 26, 2019, 8:44 pm

      it was passed in 95, every president signed it with the waver since then, until trump moved it. thanks and no thanks for not answering the questions.

      • echinococcus on March 26, 2019, 11:29 pm

        The questions in question are inane. Passing a goddam law in Congress is infinitely more effective as an act of war than implementing it as required by the legislative intent. Also, tell your pet Censor that suppressing answers to posts reflects seriously on this site’s image.

      • DaBakr on March 27, 2019, 12:33 am

        @an

        I was going to answer but then thought to ask what motivation would the US have in reversing the ’95 law to recognize israels right to determine its own capital with embasy in what is considered by even staunch anti-settlement opponents to be west jerusalem and within the ’49 armistice line?
        and what motivation would any future US president have to reverse support for israel retaining control of Golan wether officially or unofficially? is syria , even in ts current state of destruction by internal civil war and 40 years of brutal murdeous control by a single mafiosa type family showing any inclination to ally with US interests? have the assads been firmly in the hands of the Soviets and now Putin for decades? Are any more then a handful of Israeli Druze and Golan Arabs advocating for a return to Syrian sovereignty or are they more satisfied with the rights they enjoy with israeli citizenship under israeli sovereignty?

        but the answer to both questions is , in theory, yes. both moves could be reversed by a new US president with the approval of a new congress.

      • Talkback on March 27, 2019, 11:16 am

        DaBakr: “I was going to answer but then thought to ask what motivation would the US have in reversing the ’95 law to recognize israels right to determine its own capital with embasy in what is considered by even staunch anti-settlement opponents to be west jerusalem and within the ’49 armistice line?”

        To end violating Security Council resolution 478:
        “1. Censures in the strongest terms the enactment by Israel of the “basic law” on Jerusalem and the refusal to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions;

        2. Affirms that the enactment of the “basic law” by Israel constitutes a violation of international law and does not affect the continued application of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since June 1967, including Jerusalem;

        3. Determines that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the recent “basic law” on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith;

        4. Affirms also that this action constitutes a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East;

        5. Decides not to recognize the “basic law” and such other actions by Israel that, as a result of this law, seek to alter the character and status of Jerusalem and calls upon:

        (a) All Member States to accept this decision;

        (b) Those States that have established diplomatic missions at Jerusalem to withdraw such missions from the Holy City;”
        https://unispal.un.org/DPA/DPR/unispal.nsf/0/DDE590C6FF232007852560DF0065FDDB

        DaBakr: “… and what motivation would any future US president have to reverse support for israel retaining control of Golan wether officially or unofficially?”

        To end violating Security Council resolution 497:
        “1. Decides that the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect;

        2. Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, should rescind forthwith its decision;

        3. Determines that all the provisions of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 continue to apply to the Syrian territory occupied by Israel since June 1967;”
        https://unispal.un.org/DPA/DPR/unispal.nsf/0/73D6B4C70D1A92B7852560DF0064F101

        But the US has become like Israel (I wonder why) when it comes to violating Security Council resolutions and we all know that the US and Israel want to steal oil in the Golan Heigts and claim that it is Israel’s.

        After the US has basically told the Arab world that there will be no negotiated peace between the Palestinians and Israel regarding Jerusalem and between Israesl and Syria regarding the Golan Heights let’s see how Israel is going to handle the consequences and what it is going to reap.

      • DaBakr on March 28, 2019, 3:11 am

        @tb

        thats not motivation. thats your idea of the US hewing to the UN which none of the oter major world powers do either. Americans don’t generally have the highest opinon of the UN anyway.

      • Talkback on March 28, 2019, 10:07 am

        @tb

        thats not motivation.”

        That’s what I said:
        “But the US has become like Israel (I wonder why) when it comes to violating Security Council resolutions and we all know that the US and Israel want to steal oil in the Golan Heigts and claim that it is Israel’s.”

        DaBakr: “… thats your idea of the US hewing to the UN which none of the oter major world powers do either. Americans don’t generally have the highest opinon of the UN anyway.”

        Oh, the US and Israel like the UN if it’s in their interest. And with regard to the Security Council Resolutions concerning Israel’s illegal annexation of Jerusalem and the Golan the US didn’t veto but supported these resolutions.

        So what’s US real motivation? Genie Energy Ltd (US)/Genie Oil (Israel). At Genie Energy we have the Jewish founder Howard Jonas, the Jewish CFO Avi Goldinm, the Jewish COO Michael stein, the Jewish Vice Chariman
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genie_Energy

        And Genie Energy’s Strategic advisory board is composed of Jews, too: Dick Cheney (former vice president of the United States), Rupert Murdoch (media mogul and chairman of News Corp), Larry Summers (former head of the US Treasury), … , Michael Steinhardt, Jacob Rothschild, …

        And if that doesn’t sound Jewish enough:

        Ira Greenstein: Jared Kushner‘s Criminal Deal With Israel Behind U.S. Involvement In Syria For Genie Energy’s Control of the Golan Heights
        https://medium.com/@zanting/ira-greenstein-jared-kushner-s-criminal-deal-with-israel-behind-u-s-873da65223ce

        Do you think that it is antisemitic to point out that they are Jewish and imply that they would be somehow biased?

  6. Kay24 on March 27, 2019, 8:19 am

    Once again, Trump/Netanyahu/Kushner’s policies favoring Israel, is met with outrage. Trump is campaigning for evil Bibi. AIPAC has blasted Bibi for forming a coalition with Jewish extremists, also called terrorists by the State Department. They have already welcomed him at their AIPAC shindig, and most probably will embrace terrorists and all, if he wins, which makes their outrage lame and hollow.

    World Leaders Blast Trump’s Call to Recognize Israel’s Sovereignty Over Golan Heights

    https://www.voanews.com/a/syria-calls-trump-comments-about-golan-heights-irresponsible-/4842566.html

  7. Tom Suarez on March 27, 2019, 8:34 am

    Helena, thank you for this importance piece.
    One comment: You say that Trump + Golan “…ended Washington’s opposition to any acquisition of territory by force…”.
    I would ask: Why is the US’ (and most other countries’) de facto acceptance of Israel’s illegal annexation of the lands between the Partition and the Armistice any different than the Golan (or, indeed, the West Bank etc)? That land is equally “acquired by force”, and indeed the Armistice of 1949 makes explicit that Israel must return to the agreed borders or some other mutually agreed alternative. Israel simply refused — which is what it will do with the Golan.
    Washington ended its opposition to the acquisition of territory by force in 1949.

    • YoniFalic on March 27, 2019, 9:10 am

      The UNGA partition plan has no significance in international law. The State of Israel was (in my opinion improperly) accepted as a successor to the LoN Mandate for Palestine.

      Chapters 11, 12, & 13 of the UN Charter have some tangential relevance.

      The international community did not undertake its obligation under customary international-anti-genocide to remove the criminal genocidaire conglomeration in Palestine and to try its leadership before a Nuremberg-like International Military Tribunal.

      • Misterioso on March 27, 2019, 10:30 am

        @YoniFalic

        “The UNGA partition plan has no significance in international law.”

        Correct!!
        UNGA Resolution 181 was recommendatory only, in violation of the League of Nations British Class A Mandate for Palestine as well as the Atlantic Charter and never ratified by the UNSC.

        It was also grossly unfair to the indigenous Palestinian Arabs who made up 69% of the population and privately owned 48% of the land between the River and the Sea. Jews made up about 31% of the population, privately owned a mere 6-7% of the land , 90% were of foreign origin and thousands were illegal immigrants. About 10% of the Jewish population consisted of native Palestinian/Arab Jews who were vehemently anti-Zionist.

        Outrageously, the Partition Plan recommended that Jews receive 56% of Palestine, including its most fertile regions.

    • echinococcus on March 27, 2019, 9:29 am

      Tom,

      The date the US ended its opposition to conquest is the declaration of the Zionist entity as a state. Even speaking of “agreed borders” is nonsensical agreement to plunder. The very existence of the Zionist entity is conquest on other people’s territory. Once you agree to it, you necessarily violate the treaties and the UN Charter.

      • Tom Suarez on March 27, 2019, 10:48 am

        Hello YoniFalic and echinococcus, just to clarify that I fully agree — my comment was in effect “calling Resolution 181’s bluff”.

  8. James Canning on March 27, 2019, 10:53 am

    Neocons and Zionist expansionists indeed for years sought the overthrow of the Syrian government by the US, to enable annexation of the Golan Heights. Disgusting. And what chaos and hell has been brought down on the heads of the Syrian people.

    • DaBakr on March 28, 2019, 3:16 am

      @jc

      not trying to oust the murderous dictator Hafez and his brutal iron grip on power transfered to his survivng son is whats disgusting. Haez murdered more palestinians then Israel ever did yet with no outcry from anti-zionist israel haters like yourself. Bashir continued to lead the mafioso like Assad clan into gassing, bombing, torturing and murdering 100’s of thousands ofhis own people including elderly, children and women. that is the definition of disgusting but your to ‘occupied’ to see past your obsession

      • James Canning on March 28, 2019, 5:24 pm

        DeBakr, your approval of the murderous civil war in Syria is hardly a strong claim to humanitarian heroism. And you appear to forget that Israel nearly made a peace deal with the Syrian government in 2008 .

      • Talkback on March 28, 2019, 10:24 pm

        DaBakr: “… anti-zionist israel haters … obsession …”

        Yes, yes. Very good. Please continue.

      • DaBakr on March 29, 2019, 4:25 am

        @jc

        its called unintended consequences. israel enjoyed decades of relative quiet on the north because Bashir and befo4e, his daddy were not powerful to maintain an iron grip on their ‘people’ and afford to attack israel and fil yet again. but israel has no expectations from what the results woud b3 when Assad started to attack peaceful protesters with violence and murder. this lead to further complicatioms and the advent of the iranian tyrant mullahs and theri proxies, hez bollah. also other rebel groups possibly or possibly not hostile to israel.

        isrealis di not support the “murderous civil war” as you claim. we already had quiet. now we have to deal with an illigitmate leader who is also a brutal murderous , chemical using brute resonsib;e for over 500,000 deaths of men, women, children and elderly. Hezbollah, no longer saitisfied with being a paramiltary organization usurping Lebanese state power and serve as proxies of Iran . cccc ,

      • Talkback on March 29, 2019, 9:33 am

        DeNial: “isrealis di not support the “murderous civil war” as you claim. ”

        2014: UN reports Israeli support for Syria rebels
        https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2014/1207/UN-reports-Israeli-support-for-Syria-rebels

        2014: “Exclusive: Israel Is Tending to Wounded Syrian Rebels”
        https://foreignpolicy.com/2014/06/11/exclusive-israel-is-tending-to-wounded-syrian-rebels/

        2015: “Israel acknowledges it is helping Syrian rebel fighters”
        https://www.timesofisrael.com/yaalon-syrian-rebels-keeping-druze-safe-in-exchange-for-israeli-aid/

        2017: “Israel Reportedly Providing Direct Aid, Funding to Syrian Rebels
        It’s been known that Israeli hospitals have treated wounded Syrian fighters, but Wall Street Journal report uncovers direct support in cash, without which fighters say they ‘wouldn’t have survived'”
        https://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/israel-reportedly-providing-direct-aid-to-syrian-rebels-1.5485794

        2018: Israel secretly armed and funded 12 Syrian rebel groups, report says
        Israel supported rebel groups to push Iranian-backed forces and ISIS fighters away from the Israeli border, Foreign Policy reports
        https://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/in-syria-israel-secretly-armed-and-funded-12-rebel-groups-1.6462729

        2019: Israel just admitted arming anti-Assad Syrian rebels. Big mistake
        For the first time on the record, a senior official confirmed Israel’s secret unconventional war in Syria, aimed at preventing Iranian encroachment. But what did Israel gain from exposing its ‘anti-intervention’ lie after so many years of denial?
        https://foreignpolicy.com/2014/06/11/exclusive-israel-is-tending-to-wounded-syrian-rebels/

        So much for state sponsored terrorism and using proxies. Israel is actually worse than Iran, because it is trying to dismantle a souvereign state from the inside and supports all this suffering of the innocent.

      • DaBakr on March 30, 2019, 3:21 pm

        @[email protected]@j

        there is a very big difference between capitalizing on a situatiomn that, were it to get even more out of control, would pose an even greater damger then the stalemate with the murderous but weak Assad Cand regime and “approval” of the civil war. I would say its another blood slander but y’all love that accusation. But we had the status quo “quiet for quiet” in golan for a long time. no hezbollah, no mullah, no irg, so the motivation to ‘approve’ a castastrophic civil war is absurd. we had absolutely no clue what would transpire except for the ususal military/security projection models. being prepared for any contingency is again, not ‘approval’.
        and while i get that MW folks dont see the the irg/mullahs having military installations as close to israel as they can survive, along with iraq, the rest of syria, lebanon, gaza, yemen too as any type of ‘expansionism’ ( I was asked by editor to ‘prove’ this) but the tiny footprint of isreal that shrunk drastically after 1977 sinai and the gaza disengagement is the biggest expansionist threat on earth, isreal making ragmatic decisions based on the horrors unfolding in syria is again: NOT approval.
        Do any of you realize how involved the druze and syrian israelis were in the decision to aid the wounded? how it was at first almost impossible to distinguish fighters from civilians? of course there was a serious effort to use the wounded for infirmation on who was doing what just like any responsible intelligence community. that israel could exchange information on what the iranians were up to for humanely treating the wounded women, children and men as well was a complelty ethical decision but still doesnt meet the standard of “approval”. and the proof is the situation is worse now then when assad was clinging to unchallenged power. so it led to a US approval of Israeli control. As critics have been screaming, ‘it doesnt change the situation’ and a peace with the new broken syria is more elusive then before. Some real doomsayers think if the lebanese govt ever had the balls to stand up to hezbollah and iran-there would be another civil war where southern lebanon and parts of southern syria would succeed and become the actual instead of defacto “South Syria Palestina/Hezbollistan” that the original partition of Syria claimed was rightfully theirs.
        but ok, iran is ‘better’ . good luck with that.

      • Talkback on March 30, 2019, 7:43 pm

        DeLusion: “there is a very big difference between capitalizing on a situatiomn that, were it to get even more out of control, would pose an even greater damger then the stalemate with the murderous but weak Assad Cand regime and “approval” of the civil war. I would say its another blood slander but y’all love that accusation.”

        ROFL. What’s a blood slander? That Israel is has been aiding the rebels? This has been documented and reported even by the UN. You’ll find it in any Israel online news. And what was the other blood slander? That Yehuda Hiss stole and sold organs of murdered Palestinians? Sooner or later you have to face the ugly reality called Israel. DaBakr.

  9. Jejasalo on March 27, 2019, 11:31 am

    It is a pleasure to read this article, especially because it acknowledges a Syrian history outside the context of Israel. Understanding Syria only in relation to Israel almost completely disregards a fascinating, rich history going back thousands of years.

    In 1919, the Syrian people were closer to adopting democratic and representative change than perhaps any other Middle Eastern country (granted – whose borders were determined mostly by Sykes-Picot).

    The King-Crane Commission of 1919, an American commission to the region to collect information on popular attitudes toward governance, was one of the first modern polls of in 20th century history. I consider it one of the biggest tragedies of modern Middle Eastern history that the French colonialists did whatever they could to snuff out burgeoning Syrian democratic sentiment – in part by its devastatingly destructive response to the 1927 Great Syrian Revolt.
    France did more to create sectarian tensions within Syria than in any state aside from modern Lebanon. Its North African colonies were treated with the same general brutality, however.

    By the time Syria gained its independence from France, in 1946, it was all but determined that no democratic state could ever flourish after the end of the French colonial administration.

    As to the corporations hoping to enrich themselves on the back of US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Golan, this is a much touchier situation. As with the huge natural gas reserves discovered off the shores of Gaza, Palestinian firms are also enmeshed in the plundering of a resource whose profits could literally save the Gazan economy. No group comes out clean when it comes to money and greed.

  10. dimadok on March 27, 2019, 1:41 pm

    “In some of these, it almost certainly stores nuclear-capable “Jericho-2” missiles. ”
    Here is where I’ve stopped reading. Great article, very factual and informative…

  11. Ossinev on March 27, 2019, 2:51 pm

    Golan Heights/”Judea and Samaria”. It`s just the Beginning(sic). Greater Zioland will include Egypt,Syria,Iraq,Iran. Not that poor eternally victimised etc yawn could in any way be considered to represent an”existential threat” to any of these states. To suggest such a thing would be blatant “anti – Semitismn” Just listen to this Zionist” visionary”:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-w_SbhFRLo

    Now why hasn`t she been invited to speak to the AIPAC audience ? She would go down a treat !!

  12. Brewer on March 27, 2019, 8:22 pm

    “After 52 years it is time for the United States 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!” – Trump

    In a pig’s eye it is/was:

    “There remain some disagreements about this latter point. Dayan later regretted his impetuous decision to take the Golan Heights. The Syrians were not a serious threat to Israel and the Israelis had provoked far more border clashes with the Syrians than the Syrians had with Israel.
    The most significant point of all is that Dayan made a unilateral decision to take the Golan Heights. He did not consult either the Israeli Prime Minister or the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army. He went ahead and gave specific orders without any consultation. In 1976-1977 I interviewed the United States Secretary of State in 1967, Dean Rusk, on three occasions. Secretary Rusk was totally open and he provided insights and facts that revealed why he had gone on record as saying that the attack on the USS LIBERTY was not an accident, but deliberate. He made it very clear to me that the culprit was the renegade Minister of Defense, Moshe Dayan, who had in effect taken the law into his own hands and ordered the attack on Syria. Dayan was very much aware of the role, missions, and likely location of the LIBERTY and that she was undoubtedly collecting key SIGINT against Israel and the other protagonists. Rusk was adamant – the Prime Minister and the other key Israeli leaders had no role at all in the decision to attack Syria and the USS LIBERTY. Dayan wanted his actions totally unmonitored during the crucial day of June 8, 1967 when Dayan ordered the attack on Syria. Dayan was gambling on both surprise and decisive military action while silencing the one intelligence asset that he assessed could monitor his every move – the USS LIBERTY.”

    http://usslibertydocumentcenter.org/doc/upload/MOSHE%20DAYAN%20AND%20THE%20ATTACK%20ON%20THE%20UNITED%20STATES%20SHIP5.pdf
    “General Moshe Dayan, who commanded the Israeli forces in 1967 and gave the order to occupy the Golan, gave an interview to an Israeli journalist, Rami Tal, in 1976. The interview was kept secret until April 1997, when it was published in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharanot. It has been authenticated by Israeli historians, and General Dayan’s daughter, Yael, a member of the Knesset, insisted that it be published.

    In the interview, Tal interjected, “But they were sitting on the Golan Heights….”

    “Never mind that,” said Dayan. “I know how at least 80 percent of the clashes there started…. It went this way: We would send a tractor to plow some area where it wasn’t possible to do anything – (it was) in the demilitarized zone – and [we] would know in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn’t shoot, we would tell the tractor to advance further, until, in the end, the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot. And then we would use artillery and later the air force…. And that’s how it was.”

    Dayan thought that the Golan would have to be given back to Syria if there were ever to be peace in the region and that keeping it would result in the loss of many Israeli soldiers.

    Then why did he give the order to invade? Essentially, it was because of pressure from the would-be settlers, who convinced Levi Eshkol, the Israeli prime minister, to occupy the Heights and the fertile lands beyond. When asked if that was all there was to it, Dayan replied:

    “I can tell you with absolute confidence that (they) were not thinking about (security); they were thinking about the Heights’ land…. I saw them; I spoke with them. They didn’t even try to hide their greed for that land.” “
    https://ifamericaknew.org/us_ints/ul-akins.html

  13. Talkback on March 28, 2019, 10:08 am

    H.E. Dr. Bashar Jaafari (Syria) Statement at the Security Council – Syrian Occupied Golan

    • oldgeezer on March 28, 2019, 12:45 pm

      Thanks!

      • Talkback on March 28, 2019, 10:27 pm

        Quote interersting that he claims that “Golan Heights” is a Hasbara term to suggest that the occupied are called Golan (which is it’s real name) is nothing more than a strategic “height”, allthough it is far more than that.

      • DaBakr on March 30, 2019, 3:40 pm

        @tb

        omg. the things israel-haters dream up. golan is golan. if you ever were there to see you would be immdiately struck by how the golan rises about 2000-3000 ft to its HEIGHTS although the plateau is lower then Hermon. what is wrong with you? they are heights because they are high and not because of hasbara. if this were the case then you would be admitting that hasbara was simply to most basic truth. i guess if they called them the golan piedmont plateau it would be another zionist colonialist ploy. shaker heights was also a zionist plot as are the hollywood hills. hasbara 101.

      • Talkback on March 30, 2019, 7:38 pm

        @ DaBakr: “omg. the things israel-haters dream up. golan is golan.”

        It was Jaafaris argument, not mine. But keep indulging in your hate projections. You’re so full of it.

  14. Atlantaiconoclast on March 29, 2019, 12:13 am

    It is incredibly either naive or deceptive for the author of this piece to pretend that the Obama admin was not supporting ISIS early on. Michael Flynn revealed American support for ISIS in an interview on Al Jazeera. You can also find a statement proving this support in the DIA Memo of 2012. We also supported Al Qaeda affiliates, including the one that sawed off a Palestinian pre teen boy’s head off.

    • Mooser on March 29, 2019, 11:53 am

      “Michael Flynn revealed American support for ISIS in an interview on Al Jazeera.”

      Don’t you mean “convicted felon Michael Flynn”?

      • Keith on March 29, 2019, 3:53 pm

        MOOSER- “Don’t you mean “convicted felon Michael Flynn”?”

        Convicted of the same crime as Putin puppet Martha Stewart?

      • Keith on March 29, 2019, 4:10 pm

        MOOSER- “Don’t you mean “convicted felon Michael Flynn”?”

        I can see that you are pleased that Flynn is gone and replaced by that fine, upstanding John Bolton. At least the Democrats seem pleased with Bolton’s tough stance toward “dictators” Putin and Maduro. I think that even Bernie approves. Bolton, Pompeo, and Abrams, the “adults” in the war room. Nice going, Dems!

      • DaBakr on March 30, 2019, 3:48 pm

        @k

        just curious:

        as a Martha fan… I don’t get the most likely facetious remark. I know what flynn supposedly did ‘wrong’ but don’t have knowledge enough to know how trivial or not was his offense.
        and i always thought that martha was attacked on a dubious case that hinged on her being a powerful self-made female ‘bitch’ who engaged in minor inside trading compared to the brokers and bankers almost 99% male. in other words-she was shafted for no apparent reason except who she was but took it like a champ. watch martha and snoop dog videos. fuck that prosecutor!

        so- flynn shafted like martha?

      • Keith on March 30, 2019, 4:39 pm

        DABAKR- “so- flynn shafted like martha?”

        Both were essentially convicted of lying to federal investigators which is a crime. Flynn, in particular, was set up. The excuse for the FBI investigation was based upon the Steele report which was obvious BS. The Trump administration started out bad but now, for a variety of reasons, is much worse. Bolton, Pompeo, and Abrams? This is the stuff of nightmares.

  15. HarryLaw on March 29, 2019, 8:36 am

    There can be no doubt that the US were aware of Islamic states intentions in Syria, on the grounds of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ here is part of the transcript of the interview with General M Flynn…..
    HASAN: You are basically saying that even in government at the time you knew these groups were around, you saw this analysis, and you were arguing against it, but who wasn’t listening?

    FLYNN: I think the administration.

    HASAN: So the administration turned a blind eye to your analysis?

    FLYNN: I don’t know that they turned a blind eye, I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision.

    HASAN: A willful decision to support an insurgency that had Salafists, Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood?

    FLYNN: It was a willful decision to do what they’re doing.
    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2015/08/10/former_dia_chief_michael_flynn_says_rise_of_isis_was_willful_decision_of_us_government.html

    Of course the migration of ISIS to Mosul in Northern Iraq across those vast deserts involving thousands of vehicles throwing up tons of dust was not spotted by US reconnaissance, especially their satellites which can read a number plate from space /s. The reason was to use ISIS to pressurize the Iraq government to do US bidding. The US is using Chairman Mao’s dictum ” power grows out the barrel of a gun’ to effect its policy in the Middle East. It will fail.

    • gamal on March 29, 2019, 11:14 am

      “HASAN: A willful decision to support an insurgency that had Salafists, Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood?”

      I think it is quite wrong to lump the MB in there with the “Salafists” et al, it (it is so weird to hear this modern usage of Salafi) is an institutional model more than an ‘ideology’, though of course there is a lot Islam sounding stuff to an outsider but the MB is not now nor has it ever been principally concerned with Islam, I would say others may disagree.

      Where you might ask does the institutional model upon which the MB is based come from, like the Ahmadiyya, it was Protestant (Anglican) missions and missionaries, who set up schools clinics and converted some Christians to their denominations and amongst Muslims inspired Hasan et al to found the MB, in appreciative imitation.

      The MB is very varied regionally, is divided very much along Urban/Rural, class and age, the divisions remind me of those within the labour unions in the UK during the post Thatcher era, rank and file and leadership at odds, till neoliberal ideas killed socialism in the general population, something that never quite happened in the Arab world which is deeply socialist in attitude as is the MB that I have had contact with.

      here is a Rand corp paper that may have some stuff in it worth knowing or at least musing over.

      https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2012/RAND_MG1247.pdf

      • RoHa on March 29, 2019, 11:27 pm

        “the Arab world which is deeply socialist in attitude”

        Sufficient reason to bomb them to oblivion, don’t you think?.

      • DaBakr on March 30, 2019, 3:59 pm

        @g

        I agree that the term ‘salafist’ in the western press is used like the bogeyman. i doubt the vast majority of even well educated non muslims understand what the term means and probably just assume it means ‘bad’. and that is ashame but part of the bigger problem of the huge population of non-elite, agrarian muslims in the world rising up with a system that is still rooted in a narrow social-religious-government construct. nobody hears much about the millions of western based muslims, who much like the black american victims families of dylan root church massacre expressed forgiveness , have also stated that while they despised the NZ act they could not ‘hate’ the killer because he was of a diseased mind. if more people heard these expressions it could change the conversation. everybody needs good PR people today. but the idea of a type of reformation in the general muslim block nations is still as far off as an arab-israel comprehensive peace treaty.
        p.s. I also don’t know what a salafist is as compared to other terms like fanatic, extremist, taliban, wahabist , etc. i know the ikwhan has a different history entirely. the irony is that, other then hamas and asst. groups most palestinain arabs don’t embrace any narrowly defined type of islam, afaik and from my own experience. and i understand that my understanding of islam is skewed by limited experience and the bias in the msm.

  16. Atlantaiconoclast on March 29, 2019, 1:20 pm

    Convicted of a process crime! I am no fan of Flynn, for I suspect he would have been neocon lite, but at least he wasn’t trying to demonize Russia and gin up support for WW3!

  17. echinococcus on March 29, 2019, 2:49 pm

    ” at least he wasn’t trying to demonize Russia and gin up support for WW3″
    for which failure he was convicted

  18. Brewer on March 30, 2019, 6:50 pm

    “I am confident that the Lord is at work here,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was in Israel when Trump made his announcement.

    This statement should frighten every rational human being on the planet.

    • Talkback on March 30, 2019, 7:30 pm

      Who knows what burnt offerings Pompeo made. Is his son still alive?

  19. Paul Larudee on April 3, 2019, 6:31 pm

    Good piece, but I would contest this passage:

    jihadi extremists from around the world crossed into Syria to join up with either ISIS (which Washington opposed) or with the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra and its many satellites, which had completely taken over Syria’s opposition movement and which Washington was powerless to oppose.

    Washington didn’t really oppose ISIS. There is plenty of evidence that they supported and encouraged it in Syria as a means of weakening Assad. And “Washington was powerless to oppose”? Really?

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