Barak: Assad will be toppled within weeks

Defense minister says increased international pressure is unlikely to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak _311 (photo credit: Reuters/Blaire Gable)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak _311
(photo credit: Reuters/Blaire Gable)
Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime will be toppled within weeks, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.
Barak said a deepening lack of unity and an increasing amount of defectors from the Syrian Army will lead to Assad’s downfall.
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He also explained that it is difficult to predict what will happen after Assad falls from power, but the expected anarchy that will follow may affect the security of the Golan Heights.
According to Barak, Iran is uncomfortable with the upheaval in the Middle East, and is sending aid to Syria and Assad’s family, in an attempt to protect its strategic ties with Damascus.
Iran is also facing increasing pressure from the international community, which recognizes Tehran’s efforts to “protest and deceive” the world as it tries to obtain nuclear weapons, he said.
Therefore, Barak explained, there is a new opportunity to pressure Iran through diplomatic means, and Israel and the US see eye-to-eye on this matter more than ever before.
“The US’s standing in the world and the Middle East has been weakened,” he stated, “but it is still the strongest power in the world.”
Although the US and other countries will attempt to enforce sanctions on Iran’s central bank, Barak predicted that such efforts will not lead Tehran to stop its nuclear program.
Despite this, he said, it is important to try all available diplomatic means. Barak said the central difficulty in increasing international pressure and sanctions is that China and Russia are not cooperative.
The defense minister also discussed changes in Egypt, pointing out that Islamist parties gained more support than expected.
“It’s already clear that the rising power in the Middle East, as a result of the current upheaval, is the public and the streets, accompanied by Islamic forces gaining more influence,” Barak explained.
At the same time, he said, there is no way of knowing how current trends will develop until the Middle East stabilizes.