Published On: Thu, Aug 9th, 2018

Syria – the cliff-like stumbling block of the Make Israel Greater president; and the return of Resolution 242

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The big names of the alternative media who specialise in this sort of stuff couldn’t make much of any import or value out of the Putin-Trump Helsinki summit of July; it was a non event that didn’t achieve anything, or too much credit was given to Trump being capable of understanding centuries-old stratagems regarding the Eurasian landmass. Trump doesn’t know his anus from his armpit.

Given the fact that Putin, in a post-summit press conference, made express reference to hostilities between Syria and a particular neighbour of that country, in relation to events that were happening at the time on the ground around the Golan Heights, and given the fact that Trump answered a question put to him about working with Russia and Syria by talking about what was going to happen to allay Israel’s fears, it is quite the surprise that the alternative media of which the author previously wrote couldn’t analyse the summit from a pertinent historical context. Then again, that analysis would show that the US and Israel have suffered an enormous setback, and maybe the alternative media just isn’t to talk about that sort of thing. Trump went to Helsinki for the best surrender terms – that is to say, his lower level diplomatic teams were set the task before and after the symbolic meeting of the heads of state where Trump, according to his press conference answer, chiselled especially for Israel; this perhaps best explains why no one else was present but the interpreter.

As a consequence of the Syrian Arab Army and partners kicking out the western-backed mercenaries from Daraa, the Russians now have Military Police patrolling with UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights – or rather the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force Zone (UNDOF), which is on the Syrian side of the lines of separation between Syrian and Israeli armed forces. In the context of recent history, this has to indicate US weakness because no longer is Israel relying on it alone for its security; moreover, it has to indicate Israeli weakness because evidently there are worries about the October War of 1974 being picked up from where it was left off, and anxiety for the Russian “peacekeeping” presence to persuade the Syrians not to be tempted. Indeed, the Russian English language news website, Sputnik, reported on Thursday 2nd August that “the Israeli Embassy to Russia confirms that the deployment of Russian military police forces occurred after an agreement with Israel”.

After the 1967 war between Syria and Israel (which involved other combatants that are not of our immediate focus), the Israelis had occupied most of the Golan Heights that lie on the borders of Syria with Israel and Lebanon. A line of separation was set up between the two sides – the armistice line. In 1973, in the October War, Syria tried to win back the Israeli gains from the previous decade, but suffered a reversal so that the Israeli’s took those parts of Golan still belonging to Syria. The Soviet Union instigated a UN Security Council Resolution, 338, which called for a ceasefire, and then

…upon all parties concerned to start immediately after the cease-fire the implementation of Security Council Resolution 242 (1967) in all of its parts.

Resolution 242 relates to the necessity for negotiations to take place toward a lasting peace, and stipulates the “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict” (i.e. the 1967 war) as an integral part of the process.

Even with the eventual onset of a ceasefire, the Syrians and Israelis continued to fire upon each other from their positions, and such was the constant nature of this attrition warfare that there were fears that the war proper would restart. Eventually, the Israelis withdrew from those parts of the Golan Heights they had captured during the October War back to the 1967 armistice line. Additionally, a new separation line was implemented which defined the limits of the UNDOF zone on the Syrian side of the 1967 armistice line. The Agreement on Disengagement between Syria and Israel was made in June, 1974, and the separation that it defined had been maintained by the Syrian Government right up until the start of the invasion of Syria by western proxies, and the occupation of the UNDOF zone by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, previously known as al-Nusra, and ISIS – essentially al-Qaeda, all of them. Of course, very recently the armed forces of the Syrian Government encroached into the UNDOF zone to take out the enemies arrayed against it, notably at Quneitra city.

It was during the liberation of the UNDOF that Israel shot down a Syrian jet claiming that it had entered the airspace over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The Syrians said that the warplane was in their airspace – they would not have been wrong, as the Golan has never been ceded to Israel by Syria, and has never been recognised as Israeli territory by the international community; the preamble to Resolution 242 speaks of the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war”. The strike happened the day after a Russian delegation, led by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, visited Jerusalem (on July 23rd), so it was probably entirely politically motivated and executed as a demonstration of Israel’s position regarding subject matter that must have been raised by the Russians. As such, we can very likely suspect that the Syrian warplane was not in the airspace over Israeli-occupied Golan, although perhaps flying in the UNDOF zone. The Russian Foreign Ministry put out a press release that Lavrov and Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, had discussed

…providing security along the Israeli border, including implementation of the 1974 Agreement on Separation of Forces.

The alternative media experts should have seen this coming, because Putin had something important to say about the 1974 Seperation of Forces agreement after the summit with Trump that took place, of course, long before the Lavrov-Netanyahu meeting:

I would also like to note that after the terrorists are routed in southwest Syria, in the so-called “southern zone”, the situation in the Golan Heights should be brought into full conformity with the 1974 agreement on the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces.

This will make it possible to bring tranquillity to the Golan Heights and restore the ceasefire between the Syrian Arab Republic and the State of Israel. The President devoted special attention to this issue today.

What Putin is recognising here is that there has been, during the invasion of Syria, a contemporary state of attrition warfare between Israel and Syria of same type, albeit not of the same ferocity, that was brought to an end by the 1974 agreement, and so therefore, there is a requirement between the parties to return to the previous status quo. This information becomes more significant when we understand that it was the Americans who requested the summit with Putin. It was Trump’s National Security Adviser, John Bolton, who went to Moscow to “lay the groundwork for the summit” – as various corporate-media have described his mission.

Moreover, don’t forget what Trump said at that post-summit press conference when he was asked “would you please go into the details of any possible specific arrangements for the US to work together with Russia in Syria…?”

We’ve worked with Israel long and hard for many years, many decades. I think that never has any country been closer than we are. President Putin also is helping Israel, and we both spoke with Bibi Netanyahu. And they would like to do certain things with respect to Syria, having to do with the safety of Israel. So, in that respect we absolutely would like to work in order to help Israel, and Israel will be working with us, so both countries would work jointly. And I think that when you look at all the progress that has been made in certain sections with the eradication of ISIS – we’re about 98–99 percent there – and other things that have taken place that we have done and that, frankly, Russia has helped us within certain respects. But I think that working with Israel is a great thing, and creating safety for Israel is something that both President Putin and I would like to see very much.

As far as Syria was discussed at that meeting, Trump was the Israeli messenger boy. And from all the information, we can deduce that there is great concern in Israel about the threat that Syria poses; indeed the Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, this week spoke to Israeli military personnel on the Golan Heights and told them:

The Syrian army is not making do with taking control of all of Syria’s territory, instead explicitly building up a broad, new ground army that will resume its prior dimensions and even surpass it.

Israel’s worry must be that any static attrition warfare between Syria and Israel may escalate into a fully fledged war, and that Syria would pose a real existential danger during the course of this conflict. Of course, the Israelis have been breaking the separation of forces agreement routinely for many a long year in support of the western proxy army of terrorists – and did so because the survival of Assad was not expected. The big lesson for Israel regarding what to expect in payback came in May, 2018, when the Syrians found it necessary to fire into the Israeli occupied Golan Heights in response to an Israeli attack on Syrian air defences (see the FBEL article Under pretence of dealing with Iran, Israel goes after air defences; Russia should rethink the S-300 to Syria).

However, even though the Israelis are able to influence a US president like they have never been able to before (despite the always prevalent ideas about little Israel manoeuvring the US in foreign policy at will) the control is redundant, because Israel is obviously reliant on Russia for the retention of the territory that the Syrians have never abandoned. In the context of a scenario where one country occupies land belong to a determined and increasingly confident and capable neighbour, it would be the former party who be more anxious to retain the services of a powerful intervening force. The Syrians are hardly going to shoot through Russian positions in the UNDOF zone.  The Israelis have signalled their weakness, as have the Americans.

And there’s much more to the weakness of America than its ever reducing options available to it in the strips of land it controls in Syria.  To understand that there has been a fundamental tipping of the balance of power, we must return to the days after the October War, as told in The Origins of the Arab Israeli Wars, by Ritchie Ovendale.

Sadat, the President of Egypt at the time, whose forces had attacked Israel in the Sinai at the same time as Syria attacked the Golan Heights, started to cast around for help when the Israelis wouldn’t abide with a ceasefire to cross the Suez Canal:

Sadat asked for a joint Russian-American peacekeeping force. Nixon did not like the idea: it would mean a return of Russia to the Middle East. (p225)

Moreover, after the war, the Egyptians realised that in their efforts to have Israel return land, the Russians would not be the super power to provide the required influence.

Sadat perceived that only the United States could effectively persuade Israel in the occupied territories. (p225)

How things have changed. It is Russia that is now going to persuade Israel in the occupied territories based on the reality that Israel cannot do anything about Syria’s resolve to exist, and her resolve to regain that which the Israelis have taken. Russia is now the peacekeeping force right at the crux of the Middle East war; something that a 1970s US Government could not have countenanced.

And Putin told the world that Russia has rededicated itself to a process which is inextricably linked with Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights when he said this:

I would like to emphasise that Russia has a stake in this course of events and will adhere to exactly this position. This will constitute a step towards establishing a just and durable peace on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 338.

Again, Resolution 338 is widely considered to be redundant without Resolution 242 (as Wikipedia explains, “SC 242 and the otherwise seemingly superfluous and superannuated Resolution 338 are always referred to together in legal documents relating to the conflict”). In reality, Putin is talking about the realisation of Resolution 242.

As for the US, there is a stark contrast between the role it played in the 1970s, and what it does these days. It has become like one of the squabbling regional powers inside the conflict, rather than an arbitrating outsider whose intervention in the arena would be akin to the Deus Ex Machina device in theatre. Not only that, but the US finds it is a somewhat impotent “regional power”. Remember this (from Haaratz)?

A Syrian state-run newspaper said Monday that the government will keep fighting “terrorists” despite U.S. warnings against a new offensive against rebels in southern Daraa province..

Then there was this (from the Guardian):

The US has warned Syrian rebels in the south-west of the country they should not expect military support to help them resist a major government offensive.

There could not be a clearer demonstration of the fall of the US as a power than what has transpired in Syria.

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