UN Peacekeepers on the Golan Heights at Risk

(Washington Institute for Near East Policy) David Schenker, Michael Herzog, Andrew J. Tabler, and Jeffrey White - The UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) on the Golan Heights was created after the October 1973 War to supervise the Israeli-Syrian disengagement agreement, and its 1,000-man force has been conducting bimonthly inspections within 15 miles on either side of the border ever since. Over the past two years, however, the emergence of rebel combat formations in the area has created an increasingly precarious security environment for UNDOF personnel operating in Syria. For Israel, jihadist tactical gains are fueling concerns that the days of longstanding quiet along the border are numbered. To mitigate that threat, the Israeli military is fast erecting a new, sophisticated border fence in the Golan. It has also added more seasoned troops and more formidable weapons systems along the frontier. As Syria deteriorates, the UNDOF mission may become unsustainable. Austria, India, and the Philippines are already discussing the future of their deployments. Furthermore, Syria's successor government - presumably Islamist in orientation - may not consent to UNDOF's reconstitution. With UNDOF gone and post-Assad Syria brimming with well-armed jihadists, the long-quiet Israel-Syria border could easily revert to a battlefield.

2013-03-12 00:00:00

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