Ayalon says stiffening sanctions have Iran panicky

Deputy FM says that sanctions a viable alternative to a military strike; states that the fall of Assad in Damascus would be big blow to Tehran.

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January 8, 2012 01:55
1 minute read.
Danny Ayalon

Danny Ayalon 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The European Union’s decision in principle last week to impose an embargo on Iranian oil unless it halts its nuclear development has Tehran in a panic, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Saturday.

“It is possible to stop Iran through diplomatic isolation, delegitimization of the regime and crippling economic sanctions,” Ayalon said during a speech in Beersheba.

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Those steps, Ayalon said, would lead either to a change in thinking among the country’s ruling ayatollahs, who are concerned about their political survival, or to a change among the Iranian people, who would realize that they would have strong Western support if they again opted to oppose the current regime, as they did during massive protests over elections there in 2009.

Ayalon said the effect of stiffer economic sanctions could be measured in a matter of weeks. EU leaders agreed in principle on Wednesday to impose an embargo on Iranian oil, but still have to agree when the embargo will begin. An announcement is due at the end of the month.

Referring to the likelihood of such an embargo, Ayalon said there was no risk of a steep rise in oil prices, “since the other oil-exporting countries can make up for the loss by increasing their production.”

Ayalon said the fall of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime was important for breaking the “axis of evil” with Iran. At the same time, he was not optimistic that the fall of Assad, which he said would be good for Syria and the region, was in the immediate offing.

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“Assad can survive for a long period and continue the terror against his people,” he predicted, adding that the Arab League monitors sent there recently have provided the beleaguered Syrian leader with a “security blanket.”

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