|© AFP Photo|
Israel's ambitions to conquer the Golan Heights and western hopes to topple Assad raise questions around the discovery of oil in the Golan
A US oil company is preparing to drill for oil in the Golan Heights.
Granted the license in February 2013 by Israel, Afek Oil and Gas is a subsidiary of Genie Energy Ltd, whose equity-holding board members include former US Vice President Dick Cheney, controversial media mogul Rupert Murdoch and financier Lord Jacob Rothschild. Also on the board is Brigadier General Effie Eitam, a former Israeli minister for infrastructure who currently resides in the Golan Heights himself.
Afek, which has exclusive rights to a 153-square-mile radius in the south of the Golan Heights, started "dirt works" in December 2014, to prepare the first site for drilling.
Israel captured the Golan Heights in the 1967 Six-Day War, annexing and occupying the territory in 1981 in violation of international law. As the conflict in Syria has escalated, the spillover into the Golan has invited Israel to label its de facto control over the territory as another security issue requiring military "defence."
Accordingly, Israel has considered unilaterally creating a new buffer zone that would extend up to 10 miles inside Syrian territory on the pretext of securing the border from Islamist fighters.
Israel and the Islamists
The role of a prominent US energy company in the Golan Heights demonstrates that the Netanyahu administration has Obama's unwavering backing in its effort to expand Israel's energy footprint into Syria.
Yet there is considerable evidence that the burgeoning threat from Islamist militants in the Golan Heights is a direct consequence of Israel's covert sponsorship of anti-Assad rebels in the region.