America’s acknowledgment and recognition of the Golan Heights being sovereign territory of Israel, played out in the media as a one-sided-one-dimensional political move to help Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, and his Likud Party, win in the upcoming April 9 Israeli elections.
There is no doubt that the tight election Netanyahu faces was a political factor to boost his chances of winning. However, there are bigger geopolitical, and military considerations that, for the most part, have either been overlooked, or deliberately ignored.
Iran and Russia have become major geopolitical players in the Middle East with their increased military presence in Syria, a region once dominated politically and militarily by America.
The Golan is a 40 miles by 12 miles mountain plateau with a spectacular view overlooking the land of Israel, Sea of Galilee and the Galilee Valley. A plateau from which Syrian forces used to periodically bombard Israel, before Syria gave up the territory after it attacked Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War and its armed forces surrendered or fled — and gave up the Golan.
I was there earlier this year on January 21st. I went with my partner to ski at Mount Hermon. It borders and occupies land in Israel adjoining the Golan, Lebanon and Syria. We couldn’t ski because a rocket had been fired from Syria that was stopped by Israel’s Iron Dome, as skiers watched. Israel retaliated with hundreds of air strikes and the ski resort was closed. Instead, we spent the day with Druze villagers who had lived under Assad’s regime in Syria, and now Israel. What an education.
When Syria’s Civil War started in 2011, Russia had a small presence in Syria with a military base and port facilities for its navy to have a presence in the Mediterranean. Today Russia has a significant military presence as a result of its military support of Assad. Its air force has become a major military factor and regional player.
Iran, had a minimal presence. Syria merely facilitated Iran’s intelligence and military arms shipments to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
My point of view on both countries activities and strategic goals, are addressed at length in Custom Maid Knowledge for New World Disorder, published in 2007:
“Hezbollah has received most of its weaponry across
the Syrian border.
“Syria sees Hezbollah as its ace in the hole, something to be
exploited to make Syria a factor in the region or to be traded
in the right circumstances.
“Syria’s alliance with Iran is a “marriage of convenience.” Syria
is a secular country with a Sunni majority. It is merely an advance
base for Iran to funnel munitions to Hezbollah. The two countries
concluded a formal alliance on June 16, 2006, which created a new
Iranian-Syrian intelligence center….
“Russia sees Iran as the handle to its front door back to the Middle
East. After all, Iran is a convenient counterweight to U.S. dominance
in the region, which Russia will exploit to the max.”
That all came into play and happened, as a result of the brutal Syrian civil war. When the Assad regime was about to be overthrown by rebels, demanding democracy and the departure of the Assad military junta. That’s when Russia, Iran and Hezbollah came to Assad’s defense and rescue. They became emboldened, embedded and engaging, especially with their deadly aerial bombings, after President Obama did not follow through on his threat to engage America militarily if Assad crossed the red line in the sand by using chemical weapons against his own people – which he did.
Iran and Hezbollah have established a long-term military presence in Syria, under the guise of defending the Assad regime, while preaching the annihilation of Israel and expanding their military footprint from Lebanon to Yemen.
Jonathan Cohen, the American representative at the U.N. Security Council, summed Trump’s decision “of critical strategic and security importance” best.
“To allow the Golan Heights to be controlled by the likes of the Syrian and Iranian regimes would turn a blind eye to the atrocities of the Assad regime and the malign and destabilizing presence of Iran in the region,” he said.
Destabilizing the Ayatollahs, even regime change, is a geopolitical and military goal of the Trump administration. The New York Times Bret Stephens and Ben Hubbard, have written great pieces this past week, on the success of the Trump strategy, starting with the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal, and the resulting sanctions imposed.
Ben Hubbard wrote, “Iran’s financial crisis, exacerbated by American sanctions appears to be undermining its support for militant groups and political allies who bolster Iranian influence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere.”
Hubbard reports that Iran can no longer finance civilian projects or credit lines in Syria. Hezbollah fighters and Palestinian militants aren’t being paid, and their families are losing subsidized housing. Even Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has complained publicly about the effects of U.S. sanctions.
Recognizing the Golan Heights as sovereign Israeli territory, is just step two in the Iran containment strategy, after America’s withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Treaty.
Steps three and four, coming as early as next month, May being the first anniversary America withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Treaty, can impose a lot more pain and be crippling.
Stephens shares points made to him by Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracy.
The sanctions needle now stands at around 6. With a nod to Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel, he says, “We need to get to 11.”
Iran still exports about a million barrels of oil a day; the administration could bring it to zero by refusing to hand out waivers. The U.S. target is to drive oil exports to zero.
The State Department could also designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp as a foreign terrorist organization, on a par with Al Qaeda or the Islamic State. Such a designation, Dubowitz says, would “make the entire Iranian economy radioactive” to foreign investment, since the I.R.G.C. is heavily involved in scores of Iranian businesses.
Freeze Iran’s foreign exchange reserves? Doable. Expose the immense wealth of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and sanction the companies he and other leading regime figures control? Ditto. Unleash lawsuits against companies still doing business with Iran to recover billions of dollars in outstanding terrorism judgments against the country? That too.
Prime Minister Netanyahu used the signing ceremony of the Golan declaration in the White House to reaffirm to President Trump Israel’s commitment as a U.S. ally.
“We are willing to fight for our common values. We’re willing to fight. You have an ally that is willing to take up arms in defense of liberty, in defense of our land, our people and our common values,” he said.
Values that Iran and Russia, like Syria, do not share or respect.