|Assad paying Golan residents salaries|
|Written by Chris Perver|
|Monday, 23 October 2006 00:00|
The cold war between Israel and Syria over the Golan Heights entered a new stage today, as IDF Chief of Staff Halutz made a surprise visit to Israeli forces in the territory. The Israeli army regularly makes surprise visits to IDF bases in order to assess their readiness to respond to an attack, but this visit comes as tensions are high between Israel and Syria in regards to the region. Syrian forces have been active in the Golan since the recent conflict with Hizbullah, and Bashar Assad warned in August that they would liberate the Golan if Israel started a war with Syria. But it seems that Assad is the one trying to pick a war with Israel. The Syrian President recently stated that he would give Israel 6 months to initiate a peace deal or face the prospect of war. Syria has also been offering citizens financial incentives for buying up land in the Golan, and it has been reported that government officials are already purchasing land that is likely to become prime real estate in the events of an Israeli withdrawal. Today it was revealed that Syria has started paying state salaries for public officials working in the territory. The Israeli government have stated that they have no intention of attacking Syria, but Israeli forces in the region are on a heightened alert, and the mood in Syria is one of an impending war.
Quote: "Security officials here told WND there have been indications the past few weeks Syria is seeking to launch a provocation. Besides Assad's statements, the officials say state-run Syrian media have been broadcasting regular warlike messages unseen since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in which Syria and Egypt launched invasions from the Golan and the Sinai desert. "The tone (in Syria) is one of preparing the public for a war," said a senior security official. He said any Syrian provocation would likely be coordinated with Iran. Tehran and Damascus, which both support Hizbullah, have signed several military pacts.
As we saw with the recent conflict with Hizbullah, it wouldn't take much to start a major confrontation with Syria. All Syria would need to do is to threaten the IDF forces in the region, possibly through a Syrian-affiliated terrorist organization operating in the area. Israel would then respond, and we could end up with a similar situation as we did three months ago. Even if Syria lost the battle, with Israeli morale at an all-time low they could achieve a significant political victory and force concessions on the Golan Heights. Perhaps a major Israeli Syrian war would provide a good excuse for Solana to implement his lasting regional peace agreement.