Beirut: Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies slammed President Donald Trump’s call to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Friday, inflaming regional tensions at a time when the Trump administration is seeking to curtail Iran’s expanding influence.
A statement by Syria’s Foreign Ministry said the move would increase Syria’s determination to recover the territory occupied by Israel “by all available means” and Russia and Iran both said it violated international law.
Turkey, a US ally, said it risked creating a new Middle East crisis.
Trump’s push to assert Israel’s ownership of the strategic heights along the Syrian-Israeli border, conveyed in a tweet on Thursday, marked a major shift in US policy and has been welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But it also raised concerns that confrontations along the ceasefire line could escalate.
Syria has made no military effort to regain the Golan since two-thirds of it was seized by Israel during the 1967 War, and its army is no match for Israel’s superior military capabilities.
In the 1990s and later in the late 2000s, Damascus engaged in peace talks with Israel, backed by the United States, to secure the return of the territory.
The Syrian war, however, has brought Iranian military advisers and Iranian backed militias such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah into the part of the Golan Heights that remains under Syrian control.
Syria called the assertion of Israeli sovereignty “irresponsible,” saying it revealed America’s “mentality of hegemony and arrogance.”
“The statements of the American president and his administration . . . will never change the fact that the Golan was and will remain part of Arab Syria and that the Syrian people are more resolute and determined to liberate this precious patch of Syrian national territory by all available means,” the Foreign Ministry statement said.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said Trump’s assertion was “illegal and unacceptable” and does not change the fact that the Golan “belongs to Syria.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry said it violated United Nations resolutions which call for the restoration of the territory to Syria.
The US assertion of Israeli claims will give Iran a propaganda boost at a time when the Trump administration is pressing allies in the region to join efforts to roll back Iranian influence.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned in a speech in Istanbul that Trump’s “unfortunate remarks” recognising Israeli sovereignty risked pushing the region toward “a new crisis.”
“We cannot allow the legitimisation of the occupation of the Golan Heights,” he said.
Gulf Arab regional group regrets Trump call
The Gulf Cooperation Council regional group of six Arab monarchies expressed regret on Friday at U.S. President Donald Trump's call to recognise Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, territory captured from Syria in a 1967 war.
Trump's statement "will not change the reality that (...) the Arab Golan Heights is Syrian land occupied by Israel by military force in 1967," said Abdul Latif Al Zayani, the GCC secretary general. "The statements by the American president undermine the chances of achieving a just and comprehensive peace."