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The Syria Imperative

By       Message Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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The Assad regime in Syria is facing increased scrutiny for its handling of demonstrators.   The Syrian opposition has asked for arms and NATO intervention similar to what was witnessed in Libya.   Washington Hawks such as former presidential candidate and U.S. Senator John McCain have called for military intervention in Syria to "protect civilians."      The call for the use of military force to "protect".


Given the demonstrated lack of regard for human life and the aversion to justice (Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.), what lies behind the imperative to intervene in Syria?


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The protest movements in Syria started in Daraa -- dubbed the epicenter of the anti-Assad protests.   Daraa, traditionally supportive of Syria's ruling Baath Party, suffered from reduced water supply triggering massive protests against the local administration and the regime for failing to deal with the acute water scarcity in the region.     Water.


Therein lies the crucial motivation behind the support, agitation, and arming of Syrians against their government by those who endorse "humanitarian wars'.    It would be na├»ve to believe that the "humanitarian' interest in Syria comes on the heels of the uprisings in the region given that water has been and continues to be a critical determinant of state security and foreign policy between Israel and Syria (as well as Lebanon) dating back decades.      

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It was the 1967 war which resulted in the exponential expansion of Israeli water sources including the   control of the Golan Heights (also referred to as the Syrian Golan).     For decades, Syrian Golan and the return of its control to Syria has posed a major obstacle to the Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations.    Israel's water demands make it virtually impossible to accommodate this process.   In fact, even with full control of the Golan, Israel's water crisis in 2000 were so acute that it prompted Israel to turn to Turkey for water purchase.    


In addition,   Syria's   presence in Lebanon since the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war in 1975 played a crucial role in hindering Israel's never-ending water demands.    Although the   1955 Johnston Plan (under the auspices of the Eisenhower administration) proposed diverting water from Lebanon's Litani River into Lake Kinneret, it was not officially formulated, though it remained an attractive prospect.      In   1982, Israeli forces established the frontline of their security zone in Lebanon along the Litani.    Numerous reports alleged that Israel was diverting large quantities of Litani water.   


Syria's presence in Lebanon and the 1991 Lebanese-Syrian Treaty of Brotherhood, Cooperation and Coordination,   was a challenge to Israel and its diversion of water.   When Syria replaced Israel as the dominant power in southern Lebanon in May 2000, Israeli fears grew that Syrian success in controlling the Golan and by extension, Lake Kinneret, would have a devastating effect on Israel.  

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Perhaps this helps explain the fact that on   September 13, 2001, while the United States   was recovering from the shock of 9/11,   the influential and powerful JINSA (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) had a statement available as to how the U.S. should proceed.    As part of its recommendations, it pointed the finger at not only at Afghanistan and Iraq, but also presented Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Sudan, the Palestinian Authority, Libya, Algeria (and eventually Saudi Arabia and Egypt) as danger spots.   Shortly thereafter, in May 2002, the "Axis of Evil" was expanded to include Syria.    


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Soraya has lived and studied in-Iran, UK, France, and has obtained her Master's degree in Public Diplomacy from USC Annenberg and USC School for International Studies, Los Angeles.- She is an independent researcher, public speaker, radio (more...)

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