By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
Ever since Trump became President of the United States he has ignored both U.S. and international laws.
A few months ago, National Security Adviser John Bolton surprisingly announced that if the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigated any wrongdoing by American soldiers in Afghanistan, the U.S. government would ban ICC Judges from entering the United States and would sanction their assets in U.S. banks.
This represents the height of arrogance and flouting of international law. Instead of serving as a model of a civilized democratic country to the rest of the world, the Trump administration is ignoring and violating several international treaties.
While it is common knowledge that “might is right” in international relations, no previous U.S. President has such flagrantly disregarded the rule of law.
Pres. Trump’s recent actions in foreign policy are even more alarming. He has never taken seriously the complexity of the Arab-Israeli conflict. On the contrary, he has ignorantly announced that it is easy to solve the Middle East problem and has irresponsibly appointed his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has no experience in diplomacy and knows nothing about the Middle East, to be in charge of the Arab-Israeli peace plan.
Last year, in another unwise and dangerous decision, Pres. Trump moved the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem which is “tantamount to recognizing Israeli sovereignty over land that is captured in the Six-Day War in 1967,” according to Professor of Law Eugene Kontorovich. In other words, the move to Jerusalem is a violation of international law.
Last week, Pres. Trump shocked the world when he tweeted that the Syrian territory of Golan Heights, occupied by Israel since 1967, is Israeli territory: “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability.” Pres. Trump signed a proclamation on March 25, 2019, with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu standing next to him in the White House, recognizing the Syrian Golan Heights as Israeli territory.
Can anyone be so flippant as to make such a grave announcement in a tweet? Just about every nation, except for Israel, condemned Pres. Trump’s unwise announcement. European Union countries, including Germany and France, criticized Pres. Trump’s decision on Jerusalem. Iran, Turkey and Egypt also sharply criticized the U.S. President. As expected, Syria declared that it will recover the Golan Heights with “all available means.”
The Golan Heights is one of the contentious territories that has been subject to serious negotiations between Syria and Israel, as part of the overall peace plan between Israel and Arab states. Announcing that Golan Heights belongs to Israel destroys what little remains of the United States claim that it is an impartial mediator. Rather than help the parties move towards peace, the United States has once again taken an unwise initiative that has aggravated the situation.
A German government spokesperson was quoted in The Independent newspaper saying, Berlin “rejected unilateral steps” to redraw national boundaries, adding: “If national borders should be changed it must be done through peaceful means between all those involved.”
The French foreign ministry stated that it did not recognize the Israeli annexation [in 1981] of the Golan Heights and that Mr. Trump’s statement is “contrary to international law.”
Palestinians quickly blasted Pres. Trump’s decision, saying it undermined the chance for peace in the region. Palestinian spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh said any action taken on the decision would be “a violation of the UN resolutions, have no value whatsoever and would remain mere ink on paper.” Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Executive Committee, called it an “assault on international law.”
Pres. Trump has foolishly undermined Israel’s safety by provoking all Arabs and Muslims against Israel and the United States rather than taking measures to calm the situation and find a peaceful solution.
To complicate matters further, Pres. Trump’s controversial announcement came shortly before the April 9 Israeli elections which will determine whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will retain his post. The U.S. action is not only misguided but also an interference in the elections of a foreign country, boosting the chances of victory for Netanyahu, who faces indictment for corruption. At a time when the U.S. is accusing Russia for interfering in the 2016 American presidential elections, the U.S. itself is blatantly interfering in Israel’s elections!
And for those Armenians who naively expect Pres. Trump to recognize Artsakh as Armenian territory, just like he recognized the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, I hate to disappoint them by stating that Armenia does not have Israel’s political clout in Washington. Secondly, Armenians should not validate the unjust handover of the occupied Syrian territory of Golan Heights to Israel by comparing it to Artsakh — an historical Armenian land given to Azerbaijan by Stalin.
Armenians should also be concerned that Pres. Trump’s flawed argument jeopardizes the recovery of Western Armenian lands occupied by Turkey. Saying that after 52 years of occupation, Golan Heights belongs to Israel, Pres. Trump is undermining the Armenian claim to Western Armenia since it has been occupied by Turkey much longer than that! No matter how long those territories remain occupied, they will always belong to Armenians just as the Golan Heights belongs to Syria!