Golan Heights, Israel, Oil and Trump

By F. William Engdahl and cross-posted from New Eastern Outlook

Events are moving rapidly to a possible new war involving Israel, the United States, Syria and Russia. Were it to take place, I honestly hope not, it would be yet another stupid war over oil. Only this oil war somehow feels far more dangerous than the US war against Iraq or Libya or previous oil wars. It’s about the part of Syria named the Golan Heights.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was one of the first heads of government to go to the United States to meet Donald Trump on February 16, in Trump’s new role as President. After the event major media focused on the themes of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the Iran nuclear deal or a Palestine two-state solution.

Virtually no mention was made by CNN or other US mainstream media of the most strategic point the two discussed. Netanyahu asked the US President to recognize the Israeli illegal occupation of Syria’s Golan Heights, something no US President has done since Israel openly declared it theirs in 1981.

What has unfolded in the region since Netanyahu’s February 16 Trump talks gives reason to believe the US and Netanyahu’s Israel covertly agreed to a strategy to allow Trump to recognize Israel as the de facto occupier of Golan Heights amid what they will call the growing chaos of the Syrian “civil war.”

Two weeks following Netanyahu’s Washington talks the Jerusalem Post wrote about the real issue discussed between the two leaders: “The biggest news to come out of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington is not what’s grabbing most headlines. Rather, it’s his decision to ask the US to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”

The Israeli paper went on to argue, “the risk of returning the Golan Heights should be measured against the fact that Iran is actively setting up another forward command along Israel’s border with Syria…Capitalizing on Netanyahu’s idea will help the US limit Russia’s reemergence as a Middle East power broker after a 40-year absence.”

Israel, in violation of the UN Charter, illegally occupied the Golan Heights after the Israeli army took it in the 1967 Six Days War. When Israel declared applicability of Israeli law in the territory and began Israeli settlements in a de facto act of annexation of Golan Heights in 1981, the UN Security Council passed UN Resolution §497, which declared 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.”

Until now the official US Government position has been that the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention’s prohibition on the acquisition of territory by force, and in contravention of the United Nations Security Council Resolution §242 passed in November, 1967 which mandates, “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent (1967-w.e.) conflict.”

Location of the Syria Golan Heights annexed by Israel in 1981 in violation of UN Resolution 242

Some days after Netanyahu left Washington, in an OpEd in the Rupert Murdoch Wall Street Journal, Mark Dubowitz, Executive Director of the Washington pro-Israel think-tank, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, argued that American recognition of Israel’s control of the Golan “would provide the Israeli government with a diplomatic win while helping the Trump administration signal to Russia and Iran that the US is charting a new course in Syria.” Dubowitz is an adviser to the Trump Administration on Iran and the Middle East. Other neo-conservative editorials echoed the theme. There is big change brewing in Washington and it looks ugly in terms of a possible US-backed war with Israel against Russia ally, Syria, over the Golan Heights. That immediately poses the question what Russia would do if it materializes…

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