Friday, March 5, 2010

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Why Does Syria Want the Golan back from Israel?

by David Bedein

JERUSALEM - The Israeli army conquered the Western slopes of the Golan Heights on the last day of the 1967 war, at the insistence of the resident’s council of Israel’s Upper Galilee region, after Syrian artillery attacks from the Golan had made the lives of the residents of the Galilee impossible. This is because Syria views the Upper Galilee region as belonging to Syria.

Syria has never given up its commitement to conquering the Galilee and annexing it, which provides Israel with a concrete reason why it is not willing to budge from the Golan Heights.

Now there is a new reason why Syria wants the Golan Heights in its hands.

Syria can no longer conceal the massive transfer it is carrying out, after a U.N. report two weeks ago exposed it. The Syrian government uprooted more than 300,000 of its citizens from their dwellings in eastern Syria and moved them to new cities, without any means of survival. The reason: a policy of forced agriculture in the country’s eastern sector, including forced farming of water-hungry crops like cotton and wheat that brought about a total drying up of wells and famine.

According to intelligence analyst Guy Bichor, “Now everyone knows why Syria is so hard-pressed to get its hands on our Sea of Galilee: in order to suck it dry by piping its waters to no-longer-inhabitable areas in the eastern part of the country.”

According to Mr. Bichor, Syria also defers to Turkey in hopes that it will raise the water quotas from the Euphrates. The Syrian plan is to gain control of the Sea of Galilee to solve its water problems.

If Israel were to cede the Golan Heights and its vast water supply to Syria, it is likely Syrian President Bashar Assad would populate the Golan with over one million Syrians.

Concerns remain, however, that Syria would again transform the Golan into a forward base from where it would once again fire missiles on Israel’s Upper Galilee region, since Syria views the Upper Galilee as Syrian territory.

See this story in the Philadelphia Bulletin
See this report at Israel Behind the News

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