The Syrian state will not be in a position to liberate the occupied Golan for decades to come. US President Donald Trump made a gift of the territory to Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu last month. The move was Trump’s support for Netanyahu’s domestic election campaign; Netanyahu is facing severe accusations of bribery and corruption. No government in Damascus can regain the occupied Golan in the next decades due to the hefty price the Syrian government would pay for any war with Israel to recover the territory. The only hope for Syria would be to copy the Lebanese experience and delegate power to a Syrian resistance. However, the Lebanese experience is unique and would be difficult to imitate, unless Syria were to regain good ties with the west and with Arab countries allied to the US.
Yes, the Lebanese resistance managed to impose on Israel in the year 2000 a humiliated unconditional unilateral withdrawal of most occupied territories. Ehud Barak, then the Prime Minister, decided to end over two decades of occupation and abandon his allies in the “South Lebanese Army” (SLA), withdrawing from Lebanon following repetitive attacks of the resistance that left over 1000 Israeli officers and soldiers killed.
Moreover, in the second Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006 (the first war was the 1982 invasion), Israel refrained from destroying the capital Beirut, the Ministry of Defence and many official institutions and infrastructure (bombing some official targets and destroying many bridges). The reason Israel held back from using its destructive firepower from these and other targets – even if it failed to achieve its goal of limiting Hezbollah’s military capabilities – is also due to the split within the Lebanese government between friends and enemies of the hegemony and dominance of the US and its allies.
The presence of Lebanese friends of the US such as Prime Minister Fouad Siniora (image on the right), and many ministers and political leader’s hostile to Hezbollah, led the US to exert pressure on Israel and prevent it from destroying the country. The US believed its allies in Lebanon might achieve by political influence what Israel has failed to do in 33 days of war against the group.