Golan Debate Outline - by Dr. Aaron Lerner IMRA
1. The Sea of Galilee supplies a highly significant portion of Israel’s current consumption.
2. The water reaching the Sea of Galilee is the least contaminated of Israel’s sources.
3. Agreements with Israel’s neighbors have increased the importance of this source – the Palestinians draw from/contaminate other sources while Jordan is guaranteed an annual supply of water regardless of the situation.
4. Syria has not honored its agreements with other countries regarding water sharing.
5. Enforcement of agreements relating to pollution control
a. Difficult to enforce (consider Gaza experience)
b. Syria’s domestic ecology record is a failure.
c. Consequences of failure disastrous
6. Desalination as an alternative:
a. Lack of a track record for operation of this magnitude to accurately project:
ii. Operation highly dependent on energy costs
(2) Lead time to get on line
(3) Resolution of technical problems such as location of production sites and storage reservoirs (strategic reserves)
b. Strategic considerations
(1) Increased energy dependence
(3) Exposure to interruption
i. Target for attack against system or power plant
ii. Blockade on energy supplies
B. Strategic value of the Golan
1. Topography allows for a small force to hold back a large invading force.
2. Undisturbed line-of-sight surveillance of Syria.
3. Proximity to Damascus provides Israel the ability to strike without relying on missiles
a. More tonnage
b. Not dependent on technology sensitive to electronic countermeasures
c. Avoids immediate escalation to missile war.
4. Strategic depth provides crucial time
a. To call up reserves
b. To resolve situation without resorting to force.
5. Relevant lessons of 6 Day War and Yom Kippur War
a. Israel took the Golan in 1967 enjoying a combination of circumstances that cannot be expected to repeat themselves
(1) Air force effectively non-existent
(2) No technology to effectively respond to assault
(3) Allies decimated
b. In 1973 everything went wrong yet thanks to strategic depth a small force was able to delay the advancing Syrian forces
(1) The most important lesson: Even the best intelligence data is subject to human interpretation and requires a proper and timely human response.
(2) The same scenario repeated without the Golan would be considerably more disastrous.
C. Security arrangements in agreement
1. From strategic advantage to equality
a. Intelligence collection/Surveillance
(1) From independence (both in terms of technology used, targets observed, real time access, unfiltered) to dependence on third parties.
(2) Syrian access to intelligence against Israel will be raised to parity with Israel’s information on Syria.
i. In the case of an Israel-Syria conflict either both parties or neither parties continue to get the surveillance feed.
ii. In the case of an Israeli conflict with a third party, Syria could forward their surveillance feed to the third party without Israel having no recourse.
b. The ‘clash line’ on the final border
(1) The difference in the sizes of the demilitarized areas only attempts to offset the Syrian advantage of holding the high ground.
i. Under the principle of equality, neither party is to have an advantage on the other in crossing the final border.
ii. To assume that Israel will be able to readily recapture the Heights in time of war is to assert that they Syrians will either be tricked at the negotiating table of make a concession that they have to date ruled out.
c. American from Ally to Arbiter
(1) In times of conflict America will focus on ‘fact finding’ and arbitration rather than aiding Israel.
(2) Israel’s ability to take preemptive measures seriously hampered.
d. Syria’s standing in the West raised towards Israel’s
(1) Off of the list of states supporting terror, Syria will benefit from an improved image and ready access to Western technologies of all kinds.
(2) American public support for Israel over Syria as well as an appreciation of Israel’s security needs eroded.
2. The critical assumptions
a. That technology can replace the advantage provided by the Golan
(1) Intelligence collection/Surveillance
i. Balloons have limited payload and subject to attack
ii. Satellites and Planes are expensive, limited coverage, subject to failure.
(2) Long range anti tank missiles and other equipment
i. GAO reports from Gulf war and result from Bosnia both show the equipment’s performance highly overrated.
ii. Employment of the technology still relies on human judgement subject to severe time constraints imposed by security arrangements
b. That whatever technological advantage provided Israel after the withdrawal will be maintained in the future
(1) Technologies have lifecycles and become outdated.
(2) Syria will strive to close the technology gap.
i. Under the Egyptian precedent, Syria, over time can be expected to be supplied advanced American weapons and training.
ii. No longer a terrorist state, Syria will have access to Western technology from other Western countries. Payment for this technology may come from third parties or internal sources (Until recently it was assumed the Egyptians had no money to buy weapons and then they discovered their fossil fuel reserves were underestimated by XXX billion dollars).
iii. During a period of conflict third parties allied to Syria may introduce advanced Western equipment (in all previous wars x,y,z provided Syria with equipment). Some Arab states (e.g. UAE) are being equipped today with US weapons systems superior to Israel’s.
iv. The future importance of Soviet weapons technology has been prematurely discounted.
c. That everything works in the case of conflict
(1) That a Syrian move is identified in a timely fashion.
(2) The action is properly and promptly interpreted.
(3) The decision-makers have the will to act promptly on the information.
d. That America as policeman will intervene
(1) The US track record in recognizing and acting promptly in such situations is discouraging
i. 1967 blockade of Straits of Tiran
ii. Egyptian violation of cease fire agreement during War of Attrition
iii. Iraqi invasion of Kuwait
iv. Iraqi violations today
(2) Contending US interests discourage action
(3) Technical limitations on America’s ability to respond effectively and in a timely fashion
D. Towards Stability or Instability?
1. Danger of war by mistake since no time available to clarify situation when violation observed.
2. Assad does not honor his agreements
a. Agreements with Turkey
b. Agreements with Israel
3. It is not clear who will rule Syria in the future
a. Assad himself is minority Allawite.
b. Little is known about his son nor is the smooth hand over of power certain.
4. Israel is a ready scapegoat to divert attention from domestic tension/strife.
5. The fabric of Syrian society will be strained by the results of or coinciding with an agreement with Israel
a. Massive structural changes as Syria modernizes
(1) Majority of population currently engaged in subsistence agriculture.
(2) Backward economy now heavily controlled by state.
b. Impact of rise in Israeli and other Western tourism on public expectations regarding human rights as well as quality of life.
6. Agreement introduces tension and increases odds of successful attack
a. Interpretation of agreement in implementation as source of friction.
(1) Genuine disputes
(2) Artificial disputes to renege on unpopular concessions.
b. Greater odds of successful attack against Israel at less defensible line encourages taking the option.
7. Agreement with Syria does not mean peace with remaining Arab states and is conditional to peace with other holdouts.
a. Leaders contesting for popular support in the Arab world will use their anti-Israel position to advance themselves.
(1) Iran, Iraq, etc. to appeal over the heads of the leaders of countries with relations with Israel
(2) Opposition leaders within countries with relations with Israel
8. Jerusalem issue will remain focus of Moslem world.
9. Palestinian rights easy excuse for tension
a. Right of return
b. Other unresolved issues
c. Additional demands by rejectionists
d. Future demands by Israeli Arabs
10. Tension caused by Israeli competition for leadership/power/dominance of region
11. Continuing efforts to remove Israel’s nuclear weapons capability.
12. External changes/events raise tension in region released by focusing it on Israel.
13. Even if Israel is treated like others in the region this does not mean long term peace as region has history of war between Arab states – not just Arab-Israeli.
II. Pro withdrawal arguments to be addressed
A. Syria-Israel border has been quiet for 26 years [reply that this due Israel’s proximity to Damascus and that Syria has violated agreement]
B. Peace with Egypt has been stable for almost three decades [reply that Egypt has been patiently reaching military parity with Israel and pursuing goal of disarming Israel of nuclear capability – still gearing up for war]
C. Agreement with Syria only possible if withdrawal completely from the Golan [reply that a peace is a means – not a goal and that Syria has peace with Turkey despite Turkish control of Alexandretta].