August 29, 2013 – The future of the UN force monitoring the line of separation between Israel and Syria following the end of the 1973 war will be further jeopardized by threatened military intervention.
UNDOF has already been hit by the loss of troops from Austria, Croatia and Japan because of repeated attacks and abductions of blue-helmeted forces.
Departing peacekeepers are being replaced by promised contributions from Fiji and Ireland, with the initial contingent of Irish troops set to deploy Sept. 4.
But the threat of intervention is likely to lead the Irish government to delay the deployment, while a western strike inside Syria will see the UN face calls to withdraw its troops by those countries whose forces are currently deployed, leaving behind a dangerous security vacuum on the Israel-Syria border.
– Denis Fitzgerald
Photo: Austrian peacekeepers raise the UN flag on Pitulim Peak on Mt. Hermon following the withdrawal of Israeli Armed Forces, June 1974. UN Photo/Yutaka Nagata
Ireland currently has troops serving in the region with the UN force in Lebanon
(above) and with UNTSO. (photo: courtesy of Irish Dept. of Defence)
Update: The resolution to deploy 114 peacekeepers to UNDOF was approved by the Irish parliament by a vote of 95-17.
July 18, 2013 – The Irish parliament will vote Thursday on a motion to send a contingent of peacekeepers to beef up the depleted UNDOF force monitoring the line of separation between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights that was established following the 1973 Yom Kippur war.
The withdrawal of Japanese, Croatian and Austrian troops in recent months has cast doubts on the future of the mission, one of the UN’s oldest, and a proposal to send a Nordic contingent to replace the withdrawing troops has yet to come to fruition.
Fiji and Nepal have agreed to send contingents to bolster the force which currently stands at 933 troops. That figure includes Austrian troops as Vienna has agreed to gradually withdraw its 377 peacekeepers to allow time for reinforcements.
The Irish cabinet has already approved sending peacekeepers to the Golan Heights but parliamentary approval is needed for deployment, which would take place in September.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently appointed Irish Major General Michael Finn as head of the UN Truce Supervision Organization, the UN’s oldest peacekeeping mission, an unarmed force comprised of military observers that works alongside UNDOF.
– Denis Fitzgerald