The assumption that an Israeli giveaway of the Golan Heights would pacify Syria, dismantle the Syria-Iran axis and moderate the Mideast is intriguing, but is it consistent with Mideast reality?
1. SYRIA’S ALLIANCE WITH IRAN HAS BEEN STRATEGIC, LONG-TERM AND NOT TACTICAL, SHORT-TERM. It constitutes the most critical element in Damascus’ national security policy, internally and externally, regionally and globally, financially and commercially, militarily and diplomatically. UNLIKE THE TACTICAL NATURE OF THE GOLAN HEIGHTS, the Syria-Iran axis relates directly to the very survival of the Ba’th regime in Damascus.
2. DAMASCUS’ TOP NATIONAL SECURITY PRIORITIES are bolstered by its ties with Shite Iran, which shares most of Damascus’ priorities: (a) Buttressing the DOMESTIC power base of the minority Alawite Ba’th regime, which is oppressing the Sunni majority; (b) Enhancing Syria’s posture in LEBANON, which is perceived as western Greater Syria; (c) Expanding their collaborative anti-US terrorism in IRAQ and AFGHANISTAN, aiming also to dislodge US presence in the PERSIAN GULF; (d) Supporting Syria in its conflict with TURKEY over the future of the Hatay/Iskandrun region (claimed by Syria) and over the Euphrates water; (e) Advancing Syrian INTER-ARAB leadership aspirations, especially versus historical rival, IRAQ; (f) Facilitating a potential Syrian control of JORDAN, which it perceives as southern Greater Syria; (g) Strengthening Syrian GLOBAL clout vis a vis Russia, the US, China and W. Europe; (h) Improving Syrian financial position and providing credit for some of its MILITARY ACQUISITIONS; (i) Supplying Syria advanced military systems and dual-use technologies; (j) Expanding and upgrading Damascus’ TERRORIST NETWORK.
3. DAMASCUS’ TOP PRIORITIES ARE IRRESPECTIVE OF THE ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT, the Palestinian issue, the settlements policy, Israel’s overall policy, a Golan Heights giveaway or Israel’s existence.
4. A SYRIA-IRAN STRATEGIC COOPERATION agreement was concluded on July 19, 2007 as a follow up to a March 10, 2007 protocol on defense cooperation: $1BN Iranian aid to acquire 400 T-72 Russian tanks, 18 Mig-31s, 8 Sukhoi bombers and Mi-8 helicopters; Iranian plants to be built in Syria for the production of medium range missiles and missile launchers; supply of Iranian surface-to-surface missiles, tanks and armored personnel carriers; training of Syrian military personnel in Iran; transfer of Iranian nuclear and chemical technologies (the reliable Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily, London, July 21, 2007).
5. A SYRIA-IRAN STRATEGIC COOPERATION agreement was concluded in June 2006 in the footsteps of the Feb. 2006 8th session of the Higher Iran-Syria Joint Commission: Iranian funding of Syrian military purchases from Russia, China and Ukraine; training of Syrian navy personnel in Iran; Iranian military aid to Hizballah via Syria. For more data on the Syria-Iran axis, please see Turkish Weekly, Aug. 15, 2007.
6. HIGH LEVEL SYRIA-IRAN MEETINGS have recently taken place in the areas of military, intelligence, ideology, diplomacy, espionage, dual-use technology, science, industry, infrastructures, agriculture, etc.
7. A GOLAN HEIGHTS GIVEAWAY would feed Syrian strategic goals, enhancing Syrian regional profile, enabling Damascus to redeploy a few armored mechanized divisions away from the Golan to the Jordanian and Turkish frontier, thus undermining vital US interests. DISMANTLING THE STRATEGIC DAMASCUS-TEHERAN AXIS would require Syria to ignore its top national security priorities, threatening the survival of the Ba’th regime. It would require Syria to stop being Syria.
P.S. Randy Travis: “I’ve got some oceanfront property in Arizona, and if you’ll buy that, I’ll throw the Golden Gate in for free.”