Since he came to office, Donald Trump has taken a very aggressive stand supporting Israel’s Zionist agenda in the Middle East. Early in his term, Trump made a unilateral decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem despite the fact that it was designated by the United Nations in 1948 to be an international protectorate. Israel invaded Jerusalem during the 1967 “6 Day” war and occupied half the city, claiming the city as their capital. They drove Palestinians from their west Jerusalem homes, stealing their possessions as they did to the refugees in 1948, and took control of the ancient Al Aqsa Mosque which is particularly sacred not only to Palestinian Muslims but to Muslims worldwide. Even so, East Jerusalem remained a home for the Palestinians and they continue to see Jerusalem as their capital though the U.S. now suggests that they need to move out.
At the end of the 1967 war, Israel occupied the neutral zone in the Syrian Golan Heights thereby occupying Syrian territory. In 1973, Syria partnered with Egypt to reclaim the Sinai and the Golan, their territories held by Israel since 1967. They were doing pretty well until Henry Kissinger mediated a deal between Egyptian President Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir such that Egypt would withdraw their troops from battle in exchange for the return of the Sinai. When Egypt unexpectedly withdrew from the war, Israel was able to bring all its forces to a single front and rout the Syrian and Jordanian forces attempting to restore the Golan to Syrian governance. <1>
Since the time the Golan Heights were first occupied, Syria has never been willing to cede this territory in any negotiation. Both Hafez (who was the General in the Golan when Syria and Jordan were betrayed by Sadat) and Bashar Assad have remained steadfast in their determination to restore the Golan Heights to Syria for more than 40 years. The international community as represented by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council have supported Syria’s claim to the Golan Heights throughout, along with the right of return of the Palestinians to the towns and villages of their homeland. International law states clearly that no country is allowed to acquire land through conquest and the annexation of occupied territory is forbidden. You can see Israel’s disregard for the people and property of the Golan in this short video made in the Golan Heights city of Quneitra in 2001. The fighting around Quneitra continues in the current war on Syria.
Golan Heights are a mountainous region which provides an advantage in a border war. The Golan Heights are also a source of water, which Israel craves to fill its swimming pools and support the Western way of life for its citizens, and which Syria desperately needs for irrigation in this time of drought. And now they say there is a significant source of oil in the Golan Heights. The Golan Heights are important for a number of reasons, but maybe none more important than the sovereignty of Syria, or on the downside, the deliberate disregard for international law and international consensus. The United Nations General Assembly has voted year in and year out in near unanimity for Israel to restore the Golan to Syria and, to free the West Bank and Gaza, and in support of the right of return for Palestinians. Most recently the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously against the U.S. supported Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights (with the exception, of course, of the U.S.).
Israel also illegally occupies a small area south of the Latani river that belongs to its northern neighbor, Lebanon, and which it has refused to return since the Israeli occupation of Lebanon during the 80s. This occupation was defeated by a massive local insurgency led by the predecessor organization to Hezbollah, and Hezbollah fighters guard the border. This area, known as Shabaa Farms, borders on the Golan Heights. The Lebanese are very concerned that the Shabaa Farms, still occupied by Israel, will be included in Trump’s gift to Israel.
When Mike Pompeo met with Lebanese President Michel Aun earlier this week, he explained to the Lebanese that they merely need to abandon support for the ‘terrorist organization’, Hezbollah, and the US cornucopia will become available to them. <2> The Lebanese immediately turned to Russia for assistance. Apparently Pompeo is not aware that Hezbollah has become a legitimate and very popular political party in Lebanon with the support of the Lebanese state and of a majority of Lebanese people.
This week, after U.S. President Trump “recognized” the Golan Heights as Israeli Territory. Mike Pompeo, answered with the affirmative to a question as to whether Trump might have been “raised by God” to save “the Jewish people” from an ‘Iranian menace”. He replied “As a Christian, I certainly believe that could be true. ” <3>
The question was in reference to the biblical story that, if it actually occurred, happened 2,500 years ago in the city of Mashad, in what is now Iran. Esther, a Jewish queen married to Persian Emperor Xerces I heard of a plot against the Jews by one of Xerces’ ministers. She approached her husband (the Persian/Iranian Emperor) with her concerns, and he had the minister executed along with his co-plotters. Xerces father, Cyrus, is famed in the Torah and the Old Testament of the Christian Bible for freeing the Jews from captivity in Babylon. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif replied:
“It is truly regrettable that bigotry gets to the point of making allegations against an entire nation which has saved Jews three times in its history. The Book of Esther tells of how Xerxes I saved Jews from a plot hatched by Haman the Agagite, which is marked on this very day; again, during the time of Cyrus the Great, an Iranian king saved the Jews — this time from captivity in Babylon; and during the Second World War, when Jews were being slaughtered in Europe, Iran gladly took them in”, …<4>
Both Donald Trump and his minister Mike Pompeo are seemingly adrift from both international law and international consensus. But the matter is worse than that. Their policies are driving a new cold war to dangerous levels. Aside from their cloddish interventions in the Middle East, Trump has formally withdrawn, not only from the JCPOA (the Iran Nuclear Deal) much to the dismay of our European allies as well as Iran, but he has also formally withdrawn from the INF (Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces) Treaty with Russia, much to the horror of our European allies and the Russians. The Europeans are presently not very happy getting the back end of their North American ally’s policy of endless war. The ignorance, cultural insensitivity and aggression of today’s leaders is unprecedented.
While Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of Prince Mohammad bin Salman continues to devastate Yemen with US weapons US trainers and US Intelligence, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is plotting with his good friend MBS to sell nuclear weapons materials and technology to the barbaric Al Saud clan. No surprise, I suppose, when the US has continually showered Israel with our tax dollars and high tech weapons from the Pentagon for decades while it slaughtered Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Since Trump gave the Syrian Golan Heights to Israel (for their protection), there is news that Israel and the U.S. are bombing in Aleppo Province in Syria? Israel says they are bombing Iranians, while Syria is reporting civilian casualties. Will the U.S. claim there are ISIS fighters among them? When will this bizarre ignoring, distorting and twisting of reality end?
In response to Trump and Pompeo’s aggressive moves on the international game board, Vladimir Putin, always the chess-master, just castled<5>, and is now breathing down their necks in Latin America. Putin just sent a group of military men led by a well-known general to operate the S-300 Missile shield Russia sold to the Venezuelan government a few years ago.
With U.S. nuclear missiles all along the border between Russia and Europe, one can’t blame Putin for exploring possible counter-threats. I am not a weapons expert but my guess is that the S-300s are no threat to the U.S. unless you count ‘protecting Venezuela from missile strikes’ a threat. However, earlier this year a couple of planes capable of carrying nukes briefly landed in Caracas. ‘It was just for show’, the Russians said. But the S-300s just came to life. What’s next? Do we want to be playing with fire or could we embrace a world of peace and mutual respect?
- Asad of Syria: The struggle for the Middle East by Patrick Seale
- Russia One-Ups U.S. in Middle East as Lebanon Challenges Donald Trump’s Stance on Iran, Israel and Syria
- Trump recognizes Golan Heights as Israeli territory; Pence says support for Israel combats anti-Semitism
- Zarif’s Disagreements with Pompeo Turn Biblical
- Move your King forward and back him up with a Rook/Castle.
- Video of Quneitra in 2001
- Bio: Judy Bello is a Middle East activist and analyst who has, over the last decade, spent time in Iran, Iraqi Kurdistan, Syria and Pakistan. She is a member of the UNAC Administrative Committee and moderates the ‘End the Wars at Home and Abroad’ Blog. She is active with the Syria Solidarity Movement and the One State Assembly supporting One Democratic State of Palestine and the Palestinian Right of Return.