Dr. Theodore Karasik, Senior Advisor to Gulf State Analytics, a geo-strategic consultancy based in Washington, DC talked about the recognition of Golan Heights as Israeli territory to ONA News Agency.
–What is the significance of Golan Heights? Because in recent days, we often hear from the officials of Trump's administration that Israel sovereignty over Golan Heights seriously matters?
–As we know, Golan is the contested territory between Israel and Syria. And the action by the United States is meant to settle by “force of law” territorial dispute in favor of Israel. This move is a larger part of the implementation of the Kushner plan. The White House is moving forward with this plan as it was a real state deal. So, this move is meant to be the start of the treaty process but because of the emotion involved that emotion will come first.
– Can the recognition be a signal to authoritarian leaders that what they've done or what they might do in the future would somehow be acceptable and go unchallenged?
–Clearly, in the last five years, there has been a tendency in international relations to seize territory that is historically disputed. We are in a period of time now the many of these disputes are being settled by de-facto actions. The UN is a vehicle for countries to go to file complains about such activity. But we see the concept of the idea of sovereignty is changing in the region and those maps are being redrawn and the UN may be involved but that is not the final word.
I think the best way to describe this maybe is that the Russians and the Iranians like play chess, the Americans are playing tic-tac-toe but maybe now the Americans playing poker.
–Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly lobbied the Trump administration on the idea of formally acknowledging Israel’s annexation of Syrian territory. So, if it is true, what motivated Israeli PM to take this step, why now?
–The part of the answer lies on what I said before, why now, is because the opportunity is there on to play or manipulate territory on to the advantage of the Israeli state. Syria right now is just a ramp state with support, the various level supports from Russia and Turkey and Iran. Although, Iran slowly getting ejected from the country at least militarily. There is also a domestic reason why Netanyahu did this move now because of the elections coming up. So, all of these events together have forced the issue.
–Coming to Gulf States' reaction, can we expect other reaction beyond official condemnations made by the governments?
–The reaction, Trump’s announcement, of course, sent shock wave. This was a move no one expected and because of the contested nature of Golan all states, especially, Arab ones denounced the move. But what Arab states say publicly does not necessarily mean what they say privately. Because we know that Israel and some Gulf states have gotten very close over the last years. And this relationship that we now see emerges and when Trump claims Golan, it forces the other Arab states to come up another kind of response, but it is not about rhetoric it is about moves on the ground.
–What type of measures to be taken by the Syrian government can be expected, considering the circumstances which Assad administration is in?
–Well, the Syrians are very stretch in military capability, they have multilevel civil war for a number of years, they supported by Russia and now Russia looks like it will not intervene in any way with these Israeli moves in Syria because Russia and Israel agree privately that Iran needs to be out of Syria, this is why Israel gets free range if you will for air-strikes in Syria against Iranian targets. And thus in Syria as a fighting force to retake the Golan is in this sense nonsensical. They do not have a capability and that is Trump move is meant to show that the weakness of the other side is quite high, they are able not to respond to this.
–Actually, you touched upon the very interesting point on the reaction of the Kremlin to this issue. So you mean we will not see any serious response?
–They denounced that but a little more quietly. The way Russia does because they play in all sides and at the same time they have individual channels between Jerusalem and Moscow because of coordination.
–Can Trump's Golan move more unite Iran and Gulf states?
–The Gulf States will not ever with Iran on any issue at this juncture. Iran is the part of the problem. The Gulf States know that they are working quietly with Israel, with American and with France to sort out the situation.