Tags: israel | syria | golan heights | border | refugees | drone

Israel and Syria on the Brink of War?

Israel and Syria on the Brink of War?
A rebel fighter walks near what purportedly are the remains of a Syrian regime drone that was shot down by Israel the day before, in a field near Barqah, a few dozen kilometres from the Golan Heights on July 12, 2018. (Ahmad al-Msalam/AFP/Getty Images)

Thursday, 12 July 2018 11:46 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Israel and Syria may soon be at war in the Golan Heights. Iran, Russia, Hezbollah, and the United States are all poised to either play a part in the conflict or to direct the brinksmanship that will avert the conflict.

Wednesday afternoon a large drone flew from Syria toward Israel. Israel launched a U.S.-made Patriot anti-missile at the drone. The drone is one more example of how Syria is consolidating its strength and mopping up the southern area of Dara, located right next to the Golan border, a stronghold of anti-Assad forces since the Syrian civil war began there in 2011.

With the coaching of Russia and Iran, Syrians are pushing the envelope and expanding into dangerous demilitarized buffer zones that Israel considers holy. Strange as it may seem, the Syrian/Israeli Golan Heights border is Israel’s most stable and quiet border.

The buffer zone between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights was determined as a result of the armistice agreement following the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In 1974 the stretch of land between the two warring countries was to become a demilitarized zone.

But the situation has changed — and the unraveling of the status quo between Syria and Israel can be traced directly to Iran.

Iran is assuming a front and center policy on the Syrian side of the Golan. The counsel they are giving is dangerous to the region and may turn explosive. Iran is trying to lure Israel into conflict much larger than drone warfare in the Golan Heights.

It gets even more complicated.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. They met in Moscow on Wednesday, just before the World Cup semi-final. Netanyahu made it crystal clear that Israel will not tolerate any violation of the buffer zone.

Earlier, Russia promised Israel that Iran will not be on the Golan. More precisely, they promised that Iran will stay at least 100 kilometers, or 62 miles, from Israel’s border. It was a promise they did not, perhaps could not, keep. And now, because of Iranian urging, coaxing, and pushing to the brink, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Syrian forces loyal to Assad are approaching that once sacrosanct demilitarized region and wreaking, militarily speaking, havoc.

Israel has announced that it will make certain that neither Syria nor any other armed body or group will move into the demilitarized zone. Israel has said they will destroy any force that enters the area.

For its part, the United States is comfortable with Israel’s ultimatum to Syria. Russia is still evaluating the situation and waiting to determine Israel’s skills in handling the situation. While they are not intervening with their own forces, the Russians seem to be granting Syria and Hezbollah freedom to approach the sacred line.

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman spent two days touring the area. While there he is quoted as saying: "We are identifying elements affiliated with the [Iranian-Shiite] axis trying to establish terror infrastructure in the Golan under the auspices of the Syrian regime. This is unacceptable, and we'll act against any terror infrastructure we'll identify here.”

"We consider the [Syrian] regime responsible, and it will pay the price for cooperating with the axis organizations … I have to emphasize I am very impressed with the preparedness of our forces, especially in light of recent events."

"We also expect strict adherence to the Disengagement Agreement from 1974. Any Syrian soldier who finds himself in the buffer zone is risking his life. In other areas as well, we’ll be strict about having the amount of forces in accordance with the agreement.”

While Israel is preparing to go to war with Syria, they are also offering aid to injured and frightened men, women, and children — all citizens of Syria, fleeing their war-torn country. They are the people who have no home to which they can return and almost no place to which they can turn for help. And so they run to the country they have been educated and inculcated to call their enemy.

Foreign Minister Lieberman also spoke about these hundreds of thousands of refugees who escaped Syria and have come to the border of Israel and Jordan. He spoke about the aid Israel provided, the tents, food, clothes, shoes, medicine and medical treatment and triage.

He said: "We toured along the border and saw the refugees’ tents. We’re ready to provide humanitarian aid, but are not ready to accept a single refugee into Israeli territory."

The irony that tens of thousands Syrian Arabs are running to Israel for protection, safety, security, food and medical services should not be lost — it is part of the reality on the ground. Israel is the only power in the region that cares.

The situation is as complex as it is dramatic and dangerous. The Syrian 9th Division is stationed very close to the border. It is a seething caldron. It is tense. All involved parties are ready to pounce.

Israel cannot permit any violations of the buffer zone. If this situation explodes the results could be catastrophic.

Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. To read more of this reports — Click Here Now.

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Israel and Syria may soon be at war in the Golan Heights. Iran, Russia, Hezbollah, and the United States are all poised to either play a part in the conflict or to direct the brinksmanship that will avert the conflict.
israel, syria, golan heights, border, refugees, drone
Thursday, 12 July 2018 11:46 AM
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