Meanwhile, In The Golan Heights


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Map of Golan Heights

Tom Clonan, in the Irish Times, writes:

“As Islamist rebels step-up attacks on the UN and intensify their military campaign within what they term the “southern front” on Syria’s Golan Heights, the risks to Irish troops are escalating.”

“This raises serious questions about the ongoing viability of the UN mission in the area. The original Undof (United Nations Disengagement Observation Force) was created 40 years ago. The original UN Security Council Resolution 350 mandates an international force to monitor a zone of separation between Israel and Syria.”

“The original mandate did not envisage a vicious civil war in Syria and does not cater for the reality of today’s de facto armed conflict in the area of operations. In short, regional events have overtaken the mission’s design and rationale.”

“All stakeholders in this rapidly evolving conflict – Assad’s Syrian forces, the Israeli military and Islamist resistance groups – have a track record in killing Irish peacekeepers. Fifty per cent of our casualties in Lebanon were inflicted by the Israelis and their proxies. The remainder of our casualties there were inflicted by Islamic resistance groups such as Hizbullah and Palestinian militias. Syrian troops shot dead an Irish army officer, Comdt Thomas Wickham, on Golan in 1967.”

“In deciding whether or not to extend the deployment of Irish troops to this volatile situation – or indeed to rotate more troops into the area in September – the Irish Government needs to consider this risk.”

Analysis: Irish peacekeepers’ position at Golan in line of fire (Tom Clonan, Irish Times)

Pic: Wikipedia

58 thoughts on “Meanwhile, In The Golan Heights

  1. Spartacus

    Just to be clear, the area occupied by the UN mission UNDOF is the narrow strip to the right of the highlighted area.

    1. Max Power

      Spent a summer there in a Kibbutz Ein Gev in 2001. Great place and lovely people! Climbed Susita mountain in the Golan Heights regularly. Great place. Would love to go back.

  2. Bejayziz

    Why cant they just beef up their presence and send in armored and artillery divisions for support. It seems a bit lame to pull out as soon as the situation gets remotely difficult and nothing like the UN during conflicts like the Korean war and Congolese conflict

      1. Bejayziz

        Maybe they should change the mandate and give them full defensive capabilities, I dont think many would object to allowing them that considering who they are defending against etc

        1. Spartacus

          It would take a major policy change at the UN to effect this. UNDOF is an observer mission. Apart from the occasional incident where Syrian or Israeli fire was directed at the OPs, it has remained stable over the years, although tense.

          1. Bejayziz

            Pretty pointless if you cant react to changes in your environment, amend the mandate, its that or let islamist scum get their way

          2. bisted

            …history shows that the major threat to UN Peacekeepers in the Middle East has come from the Israelis. Despite spending decades building a reputation for neutrality, the Irish contingent had that reputation ruined overnight by Shatter and his antics last March.
            The UN should withdraw immediately. The Israelis show nothing but disdain for the UN anyway.

          3. Bejayziz

            Ireland is not neutral bisted and never has been and must you bring your anti Israeli agenda into every conversation

          4. Bejayziz

            Defending your positions from rebels doesn’t break a neutral stance for the UN, its not like they’ll be expected to push on into Syria.

          5. Spartacus

            I’m struggling to see what your point is, if any. The Irish troops have not only robustly defended themselves, they were instrumental in the recovery of their Philipino colleagues to safety.

          6. Bejayziz

            My point is that they should be reinforced so they can defend and retake any border crossings and thereafter defend the positions…what capabilities are currently available to the UN in the region, artillery, armor, air?

          7. Spartacus

            There is no artillery or air support. The Irish are the best equipped, with light armour and man portable weapons. As the designated QRF, they were deployed to recover the Filipinos. Historically, the mission operates with the co-operation of the Israeli and Syrian armed forces. All movements and logistics have been by road transport.

      1. Medium Sized C

        Using the phrase “islamic resistance” is pretty clearly implying that the opposition in the Syrian Civil war are in some way not a belligerant. Calling them resistance, instead of rebels or insurgents, is using language that is inherently sensitive to their side.

        Technically , they started it, being that this developed from widespread civil uprising (the arab spring).
        The states reaction escalated the conflict to an atrocious level but the reality is that the conflict is rooted in Shiite/Sunni and secular/islamist tensions in Syria.

        There are people in Syria who support Bashir al-Assad, there are Shiite people across the region who support al-Assad. There are Shiite civilian groups fighting on the Government side.

        Resistance is what we call good guys. Its similar to how Kurds in Iraq are called “freedom fighters” but are called “terrorists” in Turkey. Our news media have been pushing a narrative of al-Assad as the baddie, and the opposition as goodies, which is laughable. Particularly as ISIL or ISIS or whatever are now the bad guys. But ISIS are also at war with the Syrian opposition.

        So we have a situation where ISIS are the good guys in Syria and bad guys in Iraq.
        But really the opposition are a disparate group of people who are all in the fight for different reasons. Kurds want their own state. Muslim brotherhood want an end to Ba’athist secularism, other groups just want Assad and his regime dead because they are monumental shit-heads.

        But at the end of the day the reality is that anyway to spin good guy/ bad guy narrative on a conflict is fundamentally wrong.

        1. Bejayziz

          I think most would prefer Assads secular-esque regime in charge over the various rebel factions, while both are bad, it’s reasonable to believe that a rebel power struggle after a regime collapse would lead to something much much worse

          1. Spartacus

            The manifest appetite to topple the Assad regime would suggest otherwise. Assad makes Saddam Hussein look like a life member of Amnesty International.

          2. Medium Sized C

            That, Spartacus is not true at all.

            You must have either a very short memory or be completely ignorant of Saddam Husseins actions.

          3. Odis

            Lol – I bet the yanks are sorry they lynched Saddam now, as they drop their expensive bombs on hiace pickups.

  3. ABM

    The military command know their obligations and don’t need an opinionated retiree with a column in the Oirish Times to tell them what they should and should not be doing.

    1. bisted

      …ABM…don’t some of your opinionated best friends have columns in the Oirish Times…oops…forgot Waters has moved to the Indo…just Breda flying the flag now.

  4. Spaghetti Hoop

    Coveney is well-briefed on this and last week recommended a ‘review of the situation’ by both Defence and the UN, given the different circumstances since our troops first went in.
    Trouble is, when is that going to happen? This is a crisis. They’re all back at work now.

    1. Spartacus

      Coveney has risen a great deal in my estimation over the last few days. He’s remained circumspect on the details for very good reasons. If only some of the red tops would take the hint…

  5. aretheymyfeet

    Imagine if it turned out the Israeli’s and Americans had actually been sponsoring the very same group who are now threatening the region protected by our brave men and women in the Defence Forces? Well, here’s an article from Haaretz, that notoriously anti Israel paper (bizarrely located in Tel Aviv?), from February 2014 setting out how that is in fact the case. Funny the way none of our national media have reported this slightly unusual fact. There’s much more besides if you go digging a little….

  6. Murtles

    The Golan Heights? Never knew the reasoning about putting “The” although having said that I regularly said The Lebanon in earlier days particularly talking about people I knew serving the UN (or De Leb as it was called). Not wanting to distract from real dangers our lads are in, but I’m hoping Simon Coveney in The Dublin steps up to the mark to make the best decision on the matter and not sit on the fence (no pun intended) like other wishy washy ministers.

  7. Odis

    Pull them out now, before the really very nice, moderate Islamists, (the sort America prefers) decide to capture them and ransom them back to us for loads of dosh or chop their heads off.

    You know it makes sense!

  8. Formerly known as

    The Irish should pull out. Let the IDF/ISIS/Assad’s mob fight it out. Hopefully, that will stop them murdering people in other areas.

    1. Spartacus

      Hardly surprising that the Filipinos retreated across the border to The Golan given that has been the route used to and from the UNDOF base since the mission was first established over 40 years ago. There have been some very weak attempts in Israeli media to depict the blue helmets as cowards running from a fight (the picture on the front page of Haaretz yesterday is a good, if uncharacteristically subtle, example).

      It’s bullshit and the world knows it. Innuendo fail.

    2. Odis

      “Evil Israel”?
      You were telling us they were a great bunch of lads, when they were indulging in their usual summer festival of slaughter, a couple of weeks ago.
      You need to stick to your brain dead narrative m8.

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