Monday, July 21, 2008

Point of Conflict: Sheeba Farms

Map of the Sheeba Farms. Borders by Google recognized by the United Nations, Israel, and sometimes Syria. Borders disputed by Hezbollah and Lebanon.

Eighteen farms on the Golan Heights form the Sheeba farms. There is nothing particularly valuable about the farms or the land on which they sit on. However, the Sheeba farms continue to be the stated reason for conflict that has killed over a thousand and threatens the war in the Middle East.

The farms sit right along the Israeli Golan Heights border (or Israeli occupied Syria, depending on who one asks) and Lebanon. Israel claims since it is part of the Golan Heights conquered from Syria that it is unrelated to its withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. Hezbollah claims that the farms are part of occupied Lebanon and therefore justifies the terrorists group right to keep arms as a resistance organization. The whole "resistance" claim creates enough popular support so that Hezbollah and ignore United Nations resolutions calling it to disarm like the other militias after the Lebanese Civil War (though Hezbollah keeping arms and using it against other Lebanese groups has led to Sunnis in the Future Movement to rearm).

The United Nations considers the farms to be part of Syria occupied by Israel. Israel counts the UN's belief as a victory because the UN does not think the farms are part of Lebanon. Lebanon claims it has records from the 1940s which show the farms to be Lebanese even though government maps from the 1960s show the farms as Syrian. Meanwhile, Syria itself will claim the territory is either Syrian or Lebanese on any random moment. So with Syria fluctuating and Lebanon/Hezbollah's assistance, the issue will like remain contentious.

The Sheeba Farms are a classic case example that political geographic issues are not solved easily just because one side has greater legal geographic evidence.

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