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Monday, October 23, 2006

Assad paying state salaries to Syrians living in Golan

WorldNetDaily is reporting that chinless ophthalmologist Bashar al-Assad is paying state salaries to Arabs to live on the Golan Heights and presumably be cannon fodder if and when he decides to attack Israel to try to regain the Israeli side of the Heights. Israeli officials believe that Assad is trying to underscore his claim to the Heights and may even stage a provocation as a pretext to go to war over them. For many years, no Syrians lived on the Heights and Assad perpetrated the myth that Israel had destroyed all the towns that were there. To clarify, Assad is paying Syrian state salaries to Arabs living on the Israeli side of the Heights.

Were Israel to give the Heights to the Syrians, they would control the high ground that looks down on the entire Galilee and would be able to use it to shoot at Israeli towns below (as they did until 1967, when the Golan was liberated in the Six Day War). Last month,
Assad issued a decree urging his citizens to move to the Golan Heights, claiming the International Committee of the Red Cross would help flood the terroritory with Syrians.

Assad's decree urged Syrian officials, humanitarian workers, public service providers and their families to move to the Golan with the help of the Red Cross, which has authority to operate in the area purportedly to facilitate civilian crossings into and out of Syria in humanitarian cases. Assad's signed statement said Syrians who wish to move to the Golan will be granted approval by "all the relevant authorities."

The decree affirmed the "right of the Syrian people's resistance" aimed at ensuring the return of the Golan Heights.

Israel officially annexed the Golan in 1981 and controls the territory. It must approve all cases of Syrian residents moving to the Golan. Israel is unlikely to allow any new Syrian residents into the territory.

"[Assad's] decree is seen more as rhetoric aimed at generating Syrian national feelings toward the Golan and strengthening Syrian ties to the area," said an official in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office.

Israeli officials said the Jewish state has information Assad earlier this month started paying some Golan Heights public workers official state salaries. Currently, most Golan public workers, including teachers and local officers, draw salaries from Israel, although a few public officials have been collecting salaries from Syria since the 1970s.

According to the Israeli officials, Assad is now paying Golan teachers and has drawn plans to incorporate other Golan workers into the Syrian budget.

The Heights has a population of about 35,000 – approximately 18,000 Jewish residents and 17,000 Arabs, mostly Druze. The Arab residents retain their Syrian citizenship, but under Israeli law they can also sue for Israeli citizenship.
Previously at Israel Matzav: IDF preparing response to 'hypothetical' Syrian attack

Iran, Syria preparing for Syria to attack Israel

Assad looking to war over Golan Heights

Chinless ophthalmologist favors another war, plans to bring human shields to Golan Heights

Syrian warmongering


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