Major General Jai Shankar Menon will be the new head of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). He was named the head of the mission and the force commander of the UNDOF by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. The incumbent, Lieutenant General Purna Chandra Thapa’s assignment is to end this Sunday. UNDOF is stationed in Golan Heights and is tasked with maintaining the Israel-Syria ceasefire.
“Menon brings to his new position extensive command experience and knowledge of peacekeeping affairs at the national and international levels,” Ban Ki Moon’s deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said. Menon has worked as General officer commanding of an infantry division, commandant of the regimental training centre, brigade commander and UN Military observer in Mozambique.
Menon will have his work cut out with Syria going through a tumultuous time. The fight against ISIS has roped in many stakeholders like Russia, the west, the rebels in Saudi Arabia etc. Menon has worked with UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) during 2007-09 and can rely on his experiences of the region then.
UNDOF was set up in 1974 and has 947 personnel, 190 of them from India. Israel had seized some area from Syria during the 1967 war and UNDOF was mandated to monitor the ceasefire and disengagement agreement between Israel and Syria.