After the first ever cabinet meeting in the Golan Heights, Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a speech on April 17, 2016 that the territory “will remain under Israel’s sovereignty permanently.” This elicited admonitions from some of Israel’s greatest allies, the United States and Germany, and renewed attention on the issue.
The Golan Heights were opportunistically occupied by Israel after its victory in the 1967 six-day-war. A United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has monitored the region since 1974, when Israel and Syria signed a ceasefire agreement, and it has been considered an occupied territory of the UN and the international community. In violation of this ceasefire, Israel effectively annexed the territory in 1981 by extending its laws and governmental apparatus over it. Most of the native population has been displaced and over 30 settlements have been constructed to house Jewish settlers. These settlements, like those in the West Bank, are illegal under international law.
The current escalation is really about oil. Since 2013, the Netanyahu government has granted exclusive oil and gas exploration rights to the oil company Afek Energy in a 153-square mile radius in the southern part of the Golan Heights. Afek Energy is an Israeli subsidiary of the US firm, Genie Energy. Afek’s director is former Israeli Housing Minister Effie Eitam, who is an illegal settler in the Golan Heights himself and is responsible for the fatal beatings of numerous Palestinians. Genie Energy’s strategy-advisory board includes former US Vice President Dick Cheney, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, and former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers. Other prominent names include Jacob Lord Rothschild, former CIA director and neocon James Woolsey, and former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson.
Given the clout that these figures wield in US politics, it is unlikely that the US is serious about its admonishments to Israel. Germany’s Foreign Ministry has also criticized Israel´s move as being against international law, but both the US and Germany have declined to call for the Golan Heights to be returned to Syria, citing Syria’s internal situation as a justification. If the US is indeed frustrated with Israel’s behavior, as Vice President Biden recently said, it has a funny way of showing it: the Obama administration recently agreed to grant a $3.2 to $5 billion military-aid package to Israel, its largest ever. Germany is Israel’s next largest donor and military trading partner, which suggest that the indignation is mostly symbolic.
The ascent of Genie Energy, a small Newark-based company, to such geopolitical machinations goes back to the discovery of the Levant Basin (also known as the Leviathan Basin) off the Mediterranean coast in 2010, and the confirmation of first deposits of natural gas in the Golan Heights in 2011. The Levant Basin extends from the Northeastern coast of Egypt to the Northwestern coast of Syria and covers a vast area within the territorial waters of Egypt, Israel, Gaza, Lebanon and Syria. Shortly after this discovery and the announcement that Israel intended to begin exploration and drilling, the government of Lebanon objected to the unilateral move, given the fact that the deposits extend into Lebanese territory. In an interview, Israel’s Minister of National infrastructure said that Israel would “not hesitate to use our force and strength” to protect the drilling operations. The Israeli energy giant Delek Group partnered with the US company Noble Energy to develop the exploitation of the reserves, which, according to a 2010 US Geological Survey, amounted to “approximately 122 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, with a current market value of $240 billion.”
Shale gas deposits were also found in Shfela valley in July 2011, and the Israeli Energy Initiative, a subsidiary of Genie Energy, was granted the drilling rights. Three months later, US Senator Mary Landrieu led the first official US Energy Mission to Israel, whose goal was to “introduce US firms to Israel’s rapidly expanding oil and gas market and to assist US companies pursuing export opportunities in this sector,” according to the US Department of Commerce. In reality, Landrieu was lobbying on behalf of Noble and Genie. But local environmental activists, and a consequent Knesset bill halted the venture in the Shfela Valley. By the time the bill passed, most of the company’s employees had moved to its sister subsidiary, Afek Energy.
US Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, and Israeli Treasury Director General, Doron Cohen, hosted the US-Israel Joint Economic Development Group (JEDG) in Washington on October 24, 2012. After the meeting, the JEDG signed an agreement to extend US loan guarantees of $3.8 billion to Israel to 2016, in order to develop its natural gas industry. In essence, the Obama administration gave $3.8 billion of taxpayers’ money to Israel, so that they could use it to benefit the investments and interests of American and Israeli oil companies. Given this financial backing and success of her first mission, Landrieu sent a second delegation of 12 energy (gas and oil) company representatives to Israel. During a roundtable discussion hosted by Landrieu and the Chair of Israel’s oil and gas association, Uri Aldubi, “the delegation received presentations from Noble Energy, Zion Oil, and Genie Energy.” They also met with Uzi Landau, Israel’s Minister of National Infrastructure.
All the while, the US ambassador to Israel lobbied Israeli Members of Knesset (MKs) to support legislation that would favor the gas and oil industry, particularly after the botched project in the Shfela Valley. These efforts were largely successful and resulted in the 2013-14 US-Israel Energy Cooperation Bill, which is intended to foster cooperation between Israeli and American energy companies in the exploitation of these “strategic” reserves.
After the passage of the US-Israel Energy Cooperation bill and grant of rights in the area, Afek Energy continued its exploratory and drilling operations. In October 2015, Israel and Afek Energy announced the discovery of oil reserves of 10 times the global average and capable of ensuring Israel’s energy sufficiency for many years. The announcement did not garner much attention outside the industry, but its connection to the recent militarization of the area by Israel was not coincidental. During a Washington visit on November 9, Benjamin Netanyahu asked President Barack Obama to back a formal Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights, citing the dysfunctional Syrian government, gripped by a foreign-backed civil war. He failed to mention that Israel was undermining the Assad regime and Hezbollah forces that were attempting to thwart ISIS in the region. Other political figures within Israel, such as Zvi Hauser, claimed that Israel should demand this annexation as a compensation for having tolerated the nuclear agreement with Iran.
In the past year Israel has intensified its military presence in the region and contributed to the armed conflict by utilizing the region as a staging and support ground for anti-Assad Islamist groups. As far back as 2012, UNDOF reported that Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers were seen providing military and medical aid, on numerous occasions, to al-Nusra affiliated extremist groups engaged in hostilities against President Bashar al Assad in the South of Syria. In the week leading up to Netanyahu’s announcement of unilateral annexation, the Israeli military forces practiced a series of weeklong drills in the region, as well as along the border with Lebanon, in an apparent show of force. More recently, there have been reports of Israeli weapon shipments also being seized along Syria’s southern border, and intended for rebel groups in Syria. This suggests that the area is being used as a staging ground to destabilize the Assad regime even while this destabilization serves as a justification for the annexation.
Perhaps the IDF worries that the Syrian Arab Army, with the help of the Russian Aerospace Forces, is regaining territory formerly under rebel control and that, once this task is achieved, Assad might turn his eyes to the Golan Heights. Whatever the reason, a military escalation in the area coincides with the establishment of enormous economic interests, and these interests are linked to some of the most powerful individuals in the world. Political lobbying is taking place at the highest levels to ensure that the international community recognizes Israel’s claims of sovereignty over the region. For her services to the gas and oil industry, Ms. Landrieu has received tens of thousands of dollars of political contributions from both Genie and Noble Energy between 2010 and 2014. When this failed to get her reelected, she was quickly ensured a spot on Genie Energy’s Strategic Advisory Board, where she is still employed.
By Ruben Rosenberg Colorni
Editor’s Notes: Photographs one, seven, and nine from IDF; two from copelaes; three from US Embassy in Tel Aviv; four and ten from David Poe; five from Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs; six from DonkeyHotey; and eight from Irish Defence Forces.
Source: News Junkie Post
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Editor: Little did I know when I posted a short news story about the ‘invasion of Hungary’ last evening that the situation in Kosovo has become untenable and a mass exodus was so advanced. ‘Pungentpeppers’ has again pulled many threads together to give us the big picture of what is happening in Eastern Europe. Is the US responsible? An Austrian political leader says so!
Mass exodus from Muslim Kosovo into Europe
~150,000 or more Kosovars on the move since summer
~Hungarian Police catch 1,000 Kosovars daily – a small fraction of the total
~Hungarian mayor calls for fence as Kosovars overwhelm village
~Austrian politician blames ...
Professor Vladislav B. Sotirović, Ph.D. is a Senior Lecturer of: “Middle East Studies” at the Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius, Lithuania; “Mediterranean Studies;” “Ethnicity, Multiculturalism and Globalisation;” “Balkan Nationalism and Ethnic Conflicts”and “Europeanisation: Process and Results.”
Prof. Dr. Sotirović is a distinguished expert on the History of the Early Byzantine Empire, 330–846”, Comparative History of Central and South Eastern Europe and Ottoman History, History of Lithuania and Ukraine. He is well known abroad for his influential books and popular lectures about Lithuania, Russian Federation, the Balkans and Baltic Nations and the Multiculturalism.
Professor Sotirović has studied at the Central European Summer University, Budapest, ...
“malè ou swete bèlmè, se manman ou li frape” – the evil you wish upon your mother-in-law strikes your mother, Haitian wisdom
The other day, I saw a video excerpt of an October 2012 speech in which Bill Clinton was telling an audience in New-York how his wife, Hillary, possesses the extraordinary psychic ability to speak regularly with the dead, in particular, with the spirit of former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.*
Today, some U.S. citizens who are still stunned by the election of Donald Trump may be seeking extra insights to help answer many troubling questions. However, I doubt the dead are in any way equipped to help them understand what is happening in the so-called “land of the free and home ...
Some of those currently advocating bombing Syria turn for justification to their old faithful friend “humanitarian intervention”, one of the earliest examples of which was the 1999 US and NATO bombing campaign to stop ethnic cleansing and drive Serbian forces from Kosovo. However, a collective amnesia appears to have afflicted countless intelligent, well-meaning people, who are convinced that the US/NATO bombing took place after the mass forced deportation of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo was well underway; which is to say that the bombing was launched to stop this “ethnic cleansing”. In actuality, the systematic forced deportations of large numbers of people from Kosovo ...
It is now September 2016, just two months before the Presidential elections, and both political camps have already managed to disgust a great number of the US voters, by offering almost no comprehensive political or economic program, by offering… close to nothing!
While Donald Trump is lashing out at the ‘enemy within’, during his dark moments that are increasingly resembling an advanced stage of delirium tremens (complete with a mad chase after white mice and promises to cleanse society from some imaginary and filthy rapists and social benefits guzzlers, that are constantly pouring from the south), Ms. Clinton is saddling her ...
Paris vs. Donbass
US-NATO military control of Kosovo serves several purposes for Washington’s greater geo-strategic agenda. First it enables greater US control over potential oil and gas pipeline routes into the EU from the Caspian and Middle East as well as control of the transport corridors linking the EU to the Black Sea.
It also protects the multi-billion dollar heroin trade, which, significantly, has grown to record dimensions in Afghanistan according to UN narcotics officials, since the US occupation. Kosovo and Albania are major heroin transit routes into Europe. According to a 2008 US State Department annual report on international narcotics traffic, several key ...
It’s that time of year again – when Britain’s “poppy fascism” dominates public life. Television presenters are perhaps the most conspicuous exponents, whereby the paper facsimile of the little red flower must be donned on all lapels.
Now weeks ahead of the official commemoration day, more and more Britons, including TV personalties, are pinning the poppy in public.
It may seem innocuous, but there is a disturbing authoritarianism to the increasing custom. Those who don’t wear the symbol commemorating Britain’s war dead are liable to be castigated and abused for being “traitors”.
The BBC is a classic example. The publicly owned state broadcaster ...
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“Show me bodies floating in water, play violins and show me skinny people looking sad. I still don’t care.” – Popular conservative Sun (a British daily newspaper) commenting on the homeless war refugees from war-torn Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, etc. who are fleeing their militarily de-stabilized and devastated countries after their homes and homelands had been reduced to bloody rubble by soldiers obeying orders from their commanders (including NATO and American “interventionism” in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, etc, etc).
Hopkins appears to be in good company. But she was probably just paraphrasing what she had been hearing from a multitude of ultra-nationalist ...
Revelations of fascistic crimes carried out by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) prior to, during and after NATO’s war against the former Yugoslavia should provide a salutary lesson whenever Washington again cites humanitarian concerns to justify its predatory war aims. A new report prepared by Swiss Council of Europe deputy Dick Marty slams Kosovo leader Hachim Thaci for organ trafficking and other abominable crimes, deftly shaded by the U.S. in pursuit of their own self-interests.
“Professional and honorable” KLA posing with the severed heads of Serbs they butchered in Kosovo
A report by the Council of Europe describes Kosovo today as ...
America is a warrior state, a serial aggressor, unaccountable for unparalleled high crimes against peace because of public ignorance and indifference.
Americans are sublimely unaware of their nation’s history. Its so-called war of independence substituted new management for old. Everything changed but stayed the same.
Civil war had nothing to do with freeing slaves, everything to do with keeping the nation intact, maintaining business as usual.
Imperial America enslaved Black Africans, exterminated its native people, stole their land and resources, stole half of Mexico, followed by Cuba, the Philippines, Guam, Samoa, Hawaii, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Canal Zone, Puerto Rico and other territories.
After the catastrophic attacks of September 11 2001 monumental sorrow and a feeling of desperate and understandable anger began to permeate the American psyche. A few people at that time attempted to promote a balanced perspective by pointing out that the United States had also been responsible for causing those same feelings in people in other nations, but they produced hardly a ripple. Although Americans understand in the abstract the wisdom of people around the world empathizing with the suffering of one another, such a reminder of wrongs committed by our nation got little hearing and was soon overshadowed by ...
Never has US intentions in Asia been so obvious. Attempts to portray America’s role in the region as constructive or necessary have been ongoing since the end of World War II, however, recently, with Asia able to begin determining its own destiny for itself, the tone from Washington has become increasingly curt and direct.
US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s remarks during the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore were all but a proclamation of US hegemony over Asia – a region of the planet quite literally an ocean away from Washington.
In Reuters’ article, “U.S. flexes muscles as Asia worries about South China ...
War with Russia appears increasingly likely as the US and its NATO satraps continue their military provocations of Moscow.
As dangers mount, our foolish politicians should all be forced to read, and then re-read, Prof. Christopher Clark’s magisterial book, ‘The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914.’ What is past increasingly appears prologue.
Prof. Clark carefully details how small cabals of anti-German senior officials in France, Britain and Russia engineered World War I, a dire conflict that was unnecessary, idiotic, and illogical. Germany and Austria-Hungary of course share some the blame, but to a much lesser degree than the bellicose French, ...
2015 has become a year of living dangerously.
Wars are spreading across the globe.
Wars are escalating as new countries are bombed and the old are ravaged with ever greater intensity.
Countries, where relatively peaceful changes had taken place through recent elections, are now on the verge of civil wars.
These are wars without victors, but plenty of losers; wars that don’t end; wars where imperial occupations are faced with prolonged resistance.
There are never-ending torrents of war refugees flooding across borders. Desperate people are detained, degraded and criminalized for being the survivors and victims of imperial invasions.
Now major nuclear powers ...
Donald Trump – Not My President!
Mass Exodus From Muslim Kosovo Into Europe: Did US Play A Role In Creating The Crisis?
Prof. Vladislav B. Sotirović About The Situation In Ukraine
If This Haitian Was Superstitious Like The Clintons
The myth of NATO’s “humanitarian intervention” in Kosovo
Ms. Clinton, Stop Russian ‘Bear Hunting’!
Kosovo: Heroin transport corridor
Kosovo ISIL – A Photo Documentation
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“Collateral Damage” From America’s De-Stabilizing, Endless, Post-911 “Wars On Terror”
Washington’s “Humanitarian” War And The KLA’s Crimes
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The Age Of Imperial Wars: From Regional War, “Regime Change” To Global Warfare