03:30 GMT27 November 2020
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    Trump Recognises Golan Heights as Israeli Territory (14)

    A US decision to formally back Israel and recognise its sovereignty over the Golan Heights that the Jewish state seized from Syria and claimed to be its territory decades ago, triggered a harsh response around the world. Sputnik discussed the situation in the region with a veteran war correspondent and Al-Rai Chief International Elijah J. Magnier.

    Sputnik: Donald Trump's peace plan, the so-called "Deal of the Century" has been discussed in the media for two years. The United States promised to unveil the details after Israeli elections. Also, Trump has already recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and has now recognised Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. There is an opinion out there that recognition of the Golan Heights will help Netanyahu win the upcoming elections. In your view, what will be the essence of this "Deal of the Century"?

    Elijah J. Magnier: Well, first of all, the "Deal of the Century" is no longer on the table, particularly after the illegal Trump announcement of his gift to Benjamin Netanyahu's ongoing election campaign, the Syrian Golan under Israeli occupation. It is very obvious that President Trump is trying to support the election of Benjamin Netanyahu, particularly in light of his Likud party's ongoing fierce campaign against the Blue and White party.

    The Blue and White party are not as centrist as they claim; they are in fact very right-wing. It is well-known that the Americans have been interfering in Israeli elections for decades. We remember that President George H.W. Bush (the 41st US president — ed. note Sputnik), the father, helped bring down the government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir in 1991. President Clinton tried to influence Israeli elections (even if he failed).

    READ MORE: Syria to US on Golan Heights: 'You Can Give Israel North and South Carolina'

    Such intervention (interference in Israeli domestic affairs and prime ministership elections) is quite common, and the timing of the announcement fits perfectly with Benjamin Netanyahu's election campaign and boosts his electoral support at home.

    In return, President Trump expects Netanyahu to do the same if he wins the election. Now, regarding the "Deal of the Century", it is no longer on the table because the Arabs, i.e. Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, can't handle so many provocations coming from the US, even if they are US allies. Trump already gave Jerusalem to Israel. He is taking Palestinian territory and giving it to Israel.

    Now he is taking Syrian territory and giving it to Israel. He has also supported the confiscation of Lebanese territory, the Shebaa Farms and Kfarchouba that were occupied by Israel along with the Golan. The Lebanese Resistance will not stand for this. They will fight for their land, if need be.

    Trump's move has been condemned by pretty much the whole world, and it goes against United Nations Resolutions 242, 338, and 497. Also, the UNDOF presence on the Golan between the Israelis and the Syrians now becomes meaningless. There is no point for them to remain there if Israel can now claim the whole Golan as its territory. And Syria will retaliate sooner or later when the Syrians are ready.

    Sputnik: So, as far as I understand you think that recognising the Golan Heights will boost Netanyahu's chances in the upcoming elections, right?

    Elijah J. Magnier: Of course, yes.

    Sputnik: And if Netanyahu wins, what can he offer the United States in return?

    Elijah J. Magnier: Well, since most Jews in the United States continue to vote Democratic, Trump is particularly interested in increasing Jewish support for the Republican party: we saw that during the recent AIPAC meetings. Pro-Israeli voices at AIPAC, notably the current US Ambassador to Israel, spoke at AIPAC about the importance of bolstering the Jewish vote in favour of President Donald Trump in next year’s elections. Trump expects payback from Israel in the form of Israeli lobbying in the United States to win Jewish support for him and his re-election in 2020.

    READ MORE: Ex-Israeli PM Adviser on Golan Heights: Move to Help Netanyahu Win Elections

    Sputnik: Despite the fact that Trump has repeatedly boasted about eliminating ISIS* in Syria, some experts doubt that his victory is due to the United States efforts. In your opinion, are such actions an attempt to undermine the Assad regime?

    Elijah J. Magnier: Well, first of all, ISIS* was extremely powerful in Iraq and in Syria. And it was eliminated in Iraq by the Iraqi Security Forces in the first place, including Al-Hashd al-Shaabi, the Popular Mobilisation Forces. And in Syria, the Syrian government with its allies Iran and Hezbollah, have been fighting ISIS from its first appearance; in September 2015 Russia came on the scene, offering key air support and intelligence to the battle against ISIS.

    ISIS controlled much of Syria, including Al Badia (the semi-arid rangelands of the Syrian Arab Republic, known as Al Badia in Arabic, and the Steppe in English — ed. note Sputnik), southern Syria on the Israeli borders, and al-Yarmūk (Yarmouk Camp, in Arabic Mukhayyam al-Yarmūk, a 2.11-square-kilometre district in the south of the city of Damascus, populated by Palestinians — ed. note Sputnik); they also controlled rural areas around Aleppo,  Hama, and Idlib. They were in Deir ez-Zor and Abu Kamal.

    They were all over the country.

    In the area now under US control in northeast Syria were only the remnants of ISIS, those who had survived battles against the Syrian Army and its allies, and those who gathered in the area because the US offered them safe haven for a couple of years without attacking them. They had a rude awakening when Trump announced his intention to leave Syria. It was this decision which led Trump to finally startattacking ISIS.

    And once Trump defeated ISIS, he then realised his mistake. In fact ISIS had been serving US goals. By eliminating ISIS east of the Euphrates River Trump allowed Syria to have a clear passage between Tehran, Bagdad, and, Damascus. Therefore, no, definitely not: it is not the US who eliminated ISIS. This was done in the first place by the Syrian Army and by its allies, Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia.

    READ MORE: Syrian Air Defence Repels 'Israeli Air Aggression' Against Aleppo — Report

    Sputnik: After more than two years in office, Trump has committed a series of controversial actions like withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, the US is planning to withdraw from the INF Treaty and now we have this situation with Israel. Given all this, what legacy will Trump leave when his presidency comes to an end? And how do you assess his presidential activity in general?

    Elijah J. Magnier: Well, it looks like Trump's era may not be ending in 2020; he seems to have good chances of being re-elected. Regarding false and misleading claims, since he took office he has made around 7,645 false claims and he contradicts himself all the time.

    Moreover, he revoked the Iran deal and has disregarded all international law in doing whatever he wants.

    His actions have pushed the Europeans to look for alternatives and to start thinking that the US is no longer an ideal or automatic partner.

    And today the US is no longer a partner in the peace process in the Middle East. Trump is no longer a partner for the Palestinians. He is no longer a partner even for the oil-rich Arab countries, because he is bullying and blackmailing these countries in order to drain their wealth.

    He is forcing them to buy weapons, obliging Middle Eastern countries to use their own wealth to destroy their own region! He is siphoning off the wealth of the Middle East. Trump’s legacy will be the UUSA: the Untrustworthy United States of America.

    The United States of America is now in conflict with China, Russia, the Middle East, and with Iran; it is in conflict with Venezuela and Mexico. All over the world, we can see the United States creating a complete mess and gaining only enemies. This will be Trump’s legacy if he leaves in 2020. And God help us if he remains and his mandate is renewed for a second term.

    READ MORE: UNSC Holds Meeting on Syria Amid US Recognition of Golan Heights

    Sputnik: And if he is not re-elected in 2020, what do you think will happen?

    Elijah J. Magnier: Trump has done everything the United States can do to blackmail other countries and force them into submission. He has played all his cards and put everything on the table. Now the world is taking its distance and starting to think about alternatives. Faced with outright US hegemony, other countries are thinking how to gather their forces and develop a line of defence.

    Even if Trump leaves office, he will leave China, Russia, Iran, India, Pakistan, and many other countries on the defensive. They are building parallel economic structures independent of US control and quite naturally, in the circumstances, looking to make a future independent from the United States. 

    If the United States changes its attitude there will be a place for the US in many situations and countries: otherwise, it can stay out. I think that from today onwards and for the next five years (even ten!) the world will more and more insulate itself from United States hegemony.

    * Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State/IS) is a terrorist group banned in Russia.

    The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Trump Recognises Golan Heights as Israeli Territory (14)


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    recognition, election, Daesh, Donald Trump, Israel, Syria, US, Golan Heights
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