United States and Israel preparing military operation in Syria’s occupied Golan Heights?

Syria Map

UPI reports, based upon a claim in Middle Eastern source al-Quds al-Arabi, that the United States and Israel are preparing a military intervention in the Golan Heights:

Israel is in secret talks with Syrian rebels to help find the remains of an executed Israeli spy and prepare for an operation, al-Quds al-Arabi reports.

The report said Israeli officials held talks in Jordan with Syrian opposition officials in advance of a possible Israeli-U.S. operation in Syria to protect the Golan Heights.

Technically, if the report were true, the United States and Israel would be planning a military operation intervention in Syria.

Yet the Golan Heights are a part of Syria occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six Day War.  Israel has argued, in the past, that the occupation was necessary because the Golan Heights could be used as high ground from which to shell Israeli populations.

But since then, Israel has placed settlements on the Golan Heights.  The CIA estimates 18,100 Israeli settlers were in the Golan Heights as of July 2012.

If a U.S.-Israeli operation does proceed, and establish any kind of significant foot-hold for a U.S. deployment, it could place U.S. forces and equipment in close proximity to other parts of western Syria, including Damascus.

From maps it appears that the Golan Heights are well within 50 miles of Damascus.

In addition to the issue of intervening in greater Syria itself, there also is the question of the aftermath of a fall of the Bashar al-Asad regime, including the safeguarding of Syrian WMD in the form of chemical weapons, and the role and influence of radical Islamist elements from either elements of the opposition or outsiders capitalizing on the ensuing chaos and power vacuums.

Recall that in both Russia in 1917 and Iran in 1979, the brutal successor regimes that eventually seized power had not actually been the entities overthrowing their predecessor.  In 1917 the Bolsheviks displaced the Kerensky-led provisional government. In the case of Iran, some commentators have argued that, while the radical mullahs made up part of the amalgam of influences and factors overthrowing the ailing Shah, it was later that they managed to seize power and manipulate the final direction of the populist aspects of the uprising, marginalizing and perhaps hoodwinking and victimizing educated Iranian elements wanting to remove the Shah to have greater freedom and modernization.

While Israel is a U.S. ally, arguably the most important U.S. ally in the Middle East, the notion of joint U.S.-Israeli military action is not a readily predictable phenomenon.  In fact, any such action could be politically explosive with the “Arab street,” already largely anti-Israeli, to some extent anti-American, or anti-American because of U.S. support for Israel.

In fact, with all the vitriol over U.S. intervention in Iraq, and analysis of the bundle of factors going into a legal assessment of the Gulf War II, Israel would have had every right under international law to act militarily against Saddam Hussein, give that it appeared to be the case that Saddam encouraged terrorist attacks on Israel, offered cash rewards to terrorist families and reportedly followed through.  And the United States could have acted as Israel’s ally to respond against Saddam on those grounds.  But no direct explicit mention was made of the matter as a justification of Gulf War II, presumably to avoid creating the potentially inflammatory impression that the U.S. intervention was part of an Israeli conflict with Arabs.

The Obama regime’s foreign policy has been criticized as “amateur hour” with Hillary Rodham Clinton as Secretary of State, with no real professional background for the role other than serving figurehead proxy for her husband as a Senator, and to serve as a small-town lawyer in Little Rock, Ark., with her husband as a small-state governor.

During the Obama-Rodham Clinton years, outside of the U.S. military winding forward in Iraq and Afghanistan, emphasis in foreign policy has been more on image and public relations, and internet age branding such as so-called “soft power” or “people diplomacy” rather than substantive statecraft and concrete action.  The Arab Spring proceeded apace largely without the crafting of substantive U.S. policy or leadership, almost like a sports fan posting a few things to facebook, then sitting back and taking pride that somehow their facebook posts guided their team.

“Amateur hour” came home to roost with the hapless failure at Benghazi, when repeated requests for appropriate, sound security went unheeded, with senior leadership like Obama and Rodham Clinton largely AWOL from concrete planning.

Criticized for failing to act against the bloodshed in Syria, the Obama regime now faces the curious twist of a U.S.-Israeli joint presence inside Syrian territory already occupied by Israelis in perhaps a quasi-annexation considering the settlers.

While tactically or strategically the move might provide benefits, there is little evidence that the Obama regime or any of its elements possess the leadership or subtle analysis to handle the diplomatic and political sensitivities of the move — ironic considering its emphasis on talking rather than doing, implied undue focus on branding, and superficial manipulation at the domestic level, through low-brow debate posturing, manipulation of social media, and reliance on the increased politicization of the heretofore “news” media.

[on Syrian map, Golan Heights are in the southwestern extreme of Syria]

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