Mick Wallace The #US and #EU are increasingly using #sanctions as a weapon against countries that don't bow to their financial i… https://t.co/qMbVI1XYfc
Mick Wallace How bad that the #EU of the so called 'European Values' has supported this Terrorism against the people of #Syriahttps://t.co/wRXMSubfYi
Mick Wallace Western Colonialism never really stopped, it just got a make over - It's now called 'Financial Imperialism'. Are we… https://t.co/KoMpQ69bBw
Mick Wallace RT @wallacemick: Would mean something for Irish people and the notion of 'Irish Neutrality' if Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs @simoncov

Dáil Diary no 16. 23rd February 2015

We Need to make Better use of our Defence Forces...

 

The UN Disengagement Force on the Golan Heights was established in 1974 and its primary purpose was to form a buffer zone between the Syrian Forces in the East and the Israeli Forces in the Western part of the Golan Heights. The bulk of the UNDOR forces are now withdrawn close to the Israeli side, so is no longer operating as a buffer zone or as a disengagement force, so in reality, serving no valid purpose. A recent UN report has shown that there is strong links between the Israeli Defence Forces and a rebel group inside Syria, linked with Al Qaeda, who are opposed to the Assad regime. Added to this, Israeli forces have attacked Hezbollah inside Syria, killing some of them, and have also attacked Assad’s forces - One has to wonder what is the purpose of the Irish Defence Forces in the Golan Heights at this time, where it’s primary efforts would seem to involve giving cover to the Israeli’s – Surely our excellent, well trained Defence Forces could be making a far more positive contribution elsewhere. Here’s my Dáil contribution on the issue last Wednesday-

 

Mick Wallace:   A recent UN report stated that the Israeli military has been in direct contact with Syrian rebels over a period of months, has facilitated the treatment of wounded fighters and, at times, exchanged parcels. How can the Minister justify the presence of Irish soldiers in this region? It is hard to see what they are doing there. If the Israelis are now working with rebels with al-Qaeda links, will the Minister explain what purpose the Irish soldiers are serving there now?

 

Minister Simon Coveney: The Deputy needs to think about the accuracy of that statement, frankly.

 

Mick Wallace: It is in the UN report.

 

Minister Simon Coveney:   There is a matter referred to as humanitarian assistance. The suggestion that the Israelis are working with Syrian rebels is something of an exaggeration.

 

At the request of the United Nations, following Government and Dáil Éireann approval, a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force has been deployed to the United Nations disengagement observer force, UNDOF, on the Golan Heights in Syria since 2013. The current Irish contingent, the 46th infantry group, is based in UNDOF headquarters in Camp Ziouani. It operates in the role of a quick reaction force, which is on standby to assist with ongoing operations within the UNDOF area of responsibility....most UNDOF personnel are now deployed on the Israeli side of the area of separation. The UN provides regular updates on the mission to the Security Council in this regard. The presence of the UNDOF mission remains an important element in ensuring stability on the Golan Heights and in the Middle East region.

 

Mick Wallace:   We have pointed out previously that this situation has been ongoing for 40 years. The initial idea was that it would bring peace and an end to the conflict between Israel and Syria through the Golan Heights area. After 40 years that is no longer the purpose. Recently Israel bombed Hezbollah in Syria, on the other side of the border, over the heads of the UNDOF mission. The Irish forces are regarded as probably the best available for that type of work, but their capacity to be effective and positive in a peacekeeping role could be better used elsewhere than in this location at present...

 ...the UN peacekeeping forces in areas like the Congo and Darfur have serious problems because their people are not as well qualified, trained and disciplined as the Irish troops, who could be of huge advantage in such areas. It is a pointless exercise at the moment in the Golan Heights area...

...the troops were moved because Al-Qaeda had moved into a certain area. The Minister has said that Syria and Israel are not fighting across the border at present, but they would fight if they wanted to, and we wouldn't be able to stop them if they did. The UN could play a massive role in the Middle East, but we are a long way from that. The whole area is in turmoil. It is militarised. It is an exercise in promoting the arms industry. Lockheed's share value has increased by 10% in the past six months. The escalation of activity in the area has been a massive boost to the arms industry and a huge blow for the people of the region. It is just too difficult for the UN now. Given the dynamics of it, I honestly think we should be putting our forces somewhere else. They are not serving any reasonable purpose there. I do not know how the Minister can argue that they are.

 

Minister Simon Coveney: ...As a result of the ongoing Syrian civil war and the incredibly complex conflict in Syria in recent years, safety levels in large parts of the Golan Heights have been compromised for peace observers. This mission is about peace observation rather than peace enforcement

 

Mick Wallace.

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