The flight of hundreds of UN Disengagement and Observers Force (UNDOF) soldiers - Indian, Austrian and Filipino - in trucks and APCs from the Syrian side of Golan into Israel was in full swing early Monday, March 11.
Many more UN troops are expected to make their way during the day to refuge in IDF camps across the border. Their officers, they said, had already placed their belongings aboard waiting vehicles ready to move across as soon as they received permission from their governments in Vienna, New Delhi and Manila or the UN Secretariat in New York.
Our military sources report that this mass exit signals the breakup of the 1,000-strong UNDOF which for 39 years manned the 8 sq. km separation zone between Syria and Israel. It was set up in 1974 to end the war of attrition fought in the sequel to the Yom Kippur War between the IDF and Cuban armored brigades flown in from Angola by the Soviet Union to support the Syrian army.
The UN force’s collapse began with the Croatian government’s recall of its 100 troops last week.
As the peacemakers flee, Russia is today hardly likely to interfere with who gets to control the Golan separation zone which was split between Syria and Israel.
Below we see the three most likely scenarios for who may control this vital land:
1. The Martyrs of Yarmuk Islamist militia force of the Syrian rebel movement, which staked its claim last week by kidnapping 21 blue-and-white helmeted Filipino observers on the Golan and later releasing them in Jordan.
It is feared in Washington, Jerusalem and Amman, that Al Qaeda-associated forces will waste no time in overrunning the highly strategic patch of Golan borderland, armed with chemical weapons and even Scud D missiles captured from Syrian army bases. They may even be plotting an attack during President Barack Obama’s visits to Jerusalem and Amman, starting March 20.
2. US, Jordan and/or Israel may step in to keep the Islamists out, using either large special forces units for ground raids or a swarm of armed drones.
3. Hizballah militia units were spotted Sunday night on the move from south Lebanon toward the Lebanese-Syrian border areas abutting on the Golan separation zone.
Israeli military reinforcements are massing on the Golan Syrian border.
Stay tuned and watch this evolving situation closely in the coming days and weeks, as it could represent yet another possibility for the tipping point in the Middle East.