News and Commentary

Pure Chutzpah: Syria Claims It Will Recapture The Golan From Israel ‘By All Means’

For the first time ever, the U.S. last month recognized Israeli sovereignty over the highly strategic, mountainous Golan Heights border region that exists nestled between the Jewish state and the civil war-torn failed state of Syria. The Daily Wire reported, at the time:

On Thursday, President Donald Trump, whose tenure in the White House thus far has been characterized by a profound attachment to and continuing adamant defense of the Jewish state, extended that attachment and defense one step further by calling for the United States government to formally and fully recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights border region.

The Commander-in-Chief tweeted: “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!”

The highly mountainous Golan Heights region, which borders war-torn Syria, is militarily strategic for Israel — allowing it to fall back into Arab hands would allow foreign armies to easily target large swaths of central Israel’s population centers. Israel acquired the Golan Heights as part of the existential Six Day War of 1967, during which Israel was forced to defend itself against revanchist Arab armies that invaded and sought to annihilate the fledgling Zionist state from all sides. Israel formally annexed the Golan Heights in 1981.

Shortly after his tweet, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was visiting Washington, D.C. for the annual AIPAC Policy Conference, Trump signed a formal proclamation asserting that it is henceforth U.S. policy that Israel has sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Now, The Times of Israel reports that Syria — which is still in the midst of a nearly decade-long civil war that has left over half a million dead — is vowing to take back the Golan Heights “by all means” necessary. Yes, seriously.

Syria will not shy away from using force to reconquer “every inch” of the Golan Heights, the country’s foreign minister threatened Thursday.

“Syria will liberate the occupied Golan by all means and all choices are on the table,” Walid Muallem said at a press conference in Damascus alongside his Venezuelan counterpart.

“US President Donald Trump’s decision on the occupied Syrian Golan has a single effect, as it only enhanced the US isolation,” he said. “Our right in the occupied Syrian Golan is firm and can’t be denied by the passage of time, and every inch of the occupied Syrian territories will be liberated.”…

“We have will and determination and our war since 2011 is to protect Syria’s sovereignty and independence and to liberate every inch of its territories,” Muallem said.

Syria’s aggrieved and aggressive reaction appears to be an outlier, in comparison to most of the Arab world. CNN reported last month that Trump’s call for Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights was met with a “shrug” from most of the Arab world:

So far, a handful of Arab states have denounced the move. US allies in the Gulf such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates outsourced their condemnation to the regional union, the Gulf Cooperation Council, which said the move showed “the blind bias of the United States.”

“There is a prevailing sense of apathy across the region, however, as more people prioritize domestic problems over regional issues,” [said Lina Khatib, the head of the Middle East and North Africa programme at Chatham House, a UK-based think tank for international affairs].