Wikileaks reveals varying Israeli views towards Assad

Yadlin: Israel doesn't trust Syria's peace rhetoric; Olmert: Peace with Syria not top priority; Ashkenazi: Assad smiles to West, while arming Hezbollah.

By OR SCHWARTZ
May 4, 2011 17:56
2 minute read.
Syrian President Bashar Assad

assad speech 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Various US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks on Wednesday portray differing views of Syrian President Bashar Assad from the perspective of various Israeli political and military leaders in meetings with prominent US figures.

Former director of Military Intelligence Amos Yadlin in 2006 said that Israel does not trust Assad's rhetoric regarding peace.

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The cable, dated November 27, 2006, quotes Yadlin as saying that he "believes Assad is actually preparing for the possibility of low-intensity conflict between the two countries," and says that he requested that the US put pressure on Damascus.

Yadlin also said that Syria continues to supply weapons to Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, which was "not in good shape" and was "buying time to rebuild its infrastructure."

"Israel is concerned about al-Qaida's encroachment into the Middle East, including the Gaza Strip," Yadlin was quoted as saying in the cable.

He also offered Israel's assistance in the US's War on Terror.

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Also in 2006, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had indicated the he wanted to make peace with Syria but the "Palestinian track" was his first priority.

According to the cable from a meeting between US Senator Arlen Specter and Olmert on December 27, Specter said that Assad had expressed an inclination to exert pressure on the terror group Hamas and that the Syrian leader and pledged to cooperate with the UN tribunal on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

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Specter also mentioned that Assad said he would cooperate with the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1701, the ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon following the summer 2006 war between the two.

Olmert signaled that he expected credible indication of seriousness from Assad before considering negotiations with the country, the cable says.

Former IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi in 2009 said that Assad is "smiliing to the West while supporting Hezbollah and Hamas" and must be forced to pursue a breakthrough with the West or ally with Iran.

According to the cable from a meeting between Ashkenazi and a US Congressional Delegation on November 15, Ashkenazi said Assad is "enjoying the best of both worlds."

Not only is Syria shipping arms to Hezbollah from Iran, but the country is also directly supplying the Lebanese terror group from its depots, Ashkenazi told the US officials.

Ashkenazi had said that Syria is vulnerable to US pressure, "since it has a minority regime with a bad economy and its oil is running out."

Syria's threat to Israel via Hezbollah and Hamas would be significantly minimized if it can be removed from the Iranian Axis, Ashkenazi said.

However, Ashkenazi had admitted in the meeting that Israel's northern border in the Golan is the quietest border "since the Syrians are very careful not to provoke Israel directly."

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