We have long believed that a key component of Israel’s security is effective control of much of the Golan Heights, especially the portion abutting its border with Syria. After the 1973 Yom Kippur War, a no-man’s land was set up between the Israeli and Syrian areas of the Golan Heights in the cessation-of-hostilities agreement between the two countries. According to that agreement, a UN post, manned by troops of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force was to maintain day-to-day control.
That post, however, was abandoned by UNDOF in 2014 as Syrian civil war increasingly endangered UNDOF’s personnel (both sides to the conflict periodically used the area as a staging area). So we were concerned by reports the other day that Syrian government troops have taken over the post and are entrenching themselves with significant infrastructure work. Now that it seems that the Assad regime is on the threshold of routing the rebels, it seems plausible that it will soon turn its attention to reclaiming all of the Golan from Israel.
To be sure, Russia and Iran are both significant presences in the area since both were part of the effort to defeat the opposition to Assad, and there is a distinct air of tension between the two. Indeed, Russia as of late seems to be turning a benevolent eye towards Israel. How that will play out remains to be seen. But it is clear that Syria will still try to turn back the results of both the Six-Day and Yom Kippur wars at some time in the near future if it can.
We trust that the Trump administration will continue to have Israel’s back.