World View: Syria, Allies Threaten War with Israel in the Golan Heights

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Russia may make WW II criticisms illegal
  • Israel and Syria exchange fire across the Golan Heights border
  • Arab media debate whether to start a Golan Heights war against Israel

Russia may make WW II criticisms illegal

Russian military parade in Red Square during Victory Day celebrations on May 9 (AP)
Russian military parade in Red Square during Victory Day celebrations on May 9 (AP)

Russia's Duma is considering passing a bill that would make criticism of Russia's World War II actions illegal, carrying a punishment of up to three years in prison. The bill would be support for the drive by president Vladimir Putin to bolster patriotism and nationalism among Russians, including the glorification of Russian military exploits. The bill would be a reaction to a comment made by opposition politician Leonid Gozman, comparing Stalin to Hitler, and Russia's intelligence services, SMERSH, to the Nazi intelligence services, the SS:

"I'm sure there were honest officers in SMERSH but they were unfortunate to work for an agency that was as criminal as the SS. The word SMERSH must fall into the same category as such words as the SS, NKVD and Gestapo, and cause horror and disgust, but not be a part of the headline for a patriotic movie. ...

Yes, I think Stalin was as much a criminal as Hitler was, and Stalin's punitive agencies were as criminal and disgusting as Hitler's ones.""

This remark has triggered a Duma investigation. According to Gozman, the Duma's initiative is "one more amusing instance of buffoonery," and adds that Alexander Solzhenitsyn and other great Russians have said the same things.

It is not clear what consequences the evaluation of Gozman's comments could have for him. Moscow Times

Israel and Syria exchange fire across the Golan Heights border

Syria and Israel exchanged both weapons fire and threats of war on Tuesday over the border between Syria and Israel in the Golan Heights. An Israeli jeep in an overnight patrol in the Golan Heights near the border with Syria came under fire from Syrian forces across the border, and the Israelis returned fire. There have been several such exchanges of fire since Israel's aerial strikes in the Damascus area. (See "6-May-13 World View -- Israeli air strike on Damascus escalates Syria crisis") At that time, Syria said that Israel's move was a "declaration of war," and vowed to retaliate. In the latest incident, and unlike previous incidents, Syria claimed responsibility for firing on the Israeli patrol and threatened further strikes. Israel's Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz responded with his own threat:

""We will not allow the Golan Heights to become a comfortable space for Assad to operate from. If he deteriorates the situation on the Golan Heights, he will have to bear the consequences. I am not a fiery person, but we will have to know how to defend [ourselves]. All in all, the reality on the Golan Heights is unstable, and it is being undermined."

Syria's media outlets warned that "any future aggression by Israel will be answered by Syria. Those who think we are weak and are trying us are wrong." Jerusalem Post and Debka

Arab media debate whether to start a Golan Heights war against Israel

After Israel's May 4 airstrikes, Syria's president Bashar Al-Assad's has been threatening to call for armed resistance to Israel in the Golan Heights. The Golan border between Israel and Syria has in fact been relatively quiet for 40 years, largely because the al-Assad regimes did not want a military conflict with Israel. But now Syria and its allies, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iran, are threatening to open up a Golan Heights front against Israel. According to a Lebanese columnist close to Iran and Syria, Hezbollah will lead the military action, with the help of Iran:

The Syrian leadership has decided to provide unlimited high-quality strategic aid to the Lebanese Islamic resistance [i.e. Hezbollah] and to place all the resources of the Syrian army at the disposal of the Hezbollah leadership... and to open the gate of jihad [against Israel] from Syrian land to Arabs and Muslims who desire it, and turn the Golan into 'the land of resistance...'"

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) called on Syria to open the Golan and all the borders to operations against Israel.

However, not all Arab militias think that a Golan military action against Israel is a good idea. Hamas in particular has broken relations with al-Assad's regime because of its massive bloodthirsty slaughter of innocent Syrian Arabs, and now considers getting rid of the al-Assad regime to have a higher priority than the resistance against Israel. One senior Hamas official mocked the al-Assad regime:

"It's strange that the Syrian regime is so 'courageous' when it comes to [attacking] its people and bombarding them with planes and mortars, but when Israel attacks it and destroys its military and civilian facilities and makes it a laughing stock in the eyes of the world, it puffs itself up with false pride and announces that it reserves the right to retaliate in the time and place of its choosing... Yesterday the Syrian regime announced... the launching of popular resistance. From now on, there is a presidential authorization for the popular resistance to shift itself to the Golan... Tomorrow popular resistance convoys will march on the occupied Golan and occupied Palestine... But where is the Syrian people that [is supposed to] carry out [this] popular resistance? Isn't this the same people that is wandering [homeless] inside and outside Syria? Isn't it the people that is being bombarded by the regime's planes day and night?..."

Memri


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