A presidential decree published by Syrian President Bashar Assad offers monetary incentives to citizens returning to reside permanently on the "occupied" Golan Heights with the objective of "supporting the resilience of our people on the Golan and encouraging others to return."
The decree published Tuesday addresses all workers, officials, service providers or those on their behalf from among Syria's public institutions who wish to return to the Golan via the International Red Cross. Such persons will be granted approval by all the relevant authorities, the decree notes.
Syrian Prime Minister Mohammed Naji Ottri said the presidential decree was aimed at supporting the resilience of the Syrian Arab residents currently residing on the Golan, and such a move would assist them in maintaining their land and their Syrian-Arab identities. This is the third such decree issued since 1970 supporting "Syrians who wish to live on the Golan Heights."
Recently, and particularly after the second Lebanon war, the leadership in Damascus has become increasingly preoccupied with this matter. About a month and half ago, Assad said in a private meeting with an Egyptian delegation that "the Golan would be liberated by Syrian hands," since then the Syrian president has been zigzagging between his hesitant declarations for peace on the one hand, and his preparedness for war, on the other.
Showering praise on Hizbullah
In recent weeks, various reports relating to Syria have insisted that "Damascus is considering adopting the Hizbullah mode of action," and this should not be surprising in light of the praise Assad showered on "Hizbullah's victory over Israel."
Just 10 days ago, Syrian Information Minister Bilal said that his people's patience was running thin on the Golan subject. "Syria chose the path of peace by strategic choice, particularly after former President Hafez Assad received a memo from President George Bush that included the principle of 'Land for Peace' – a memo that eventually came to be known as the Madrid Principle," he explained the Syrian stance.
"Some 16 years have elapsed since then and we still haven't reached a solution. I want say that the Syrian people will not wait much longer to return to the Golan, we have already began to lose patience."