Bashar Assad's "fate is sealed," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday, as the European Union ramped up
sanctions against key members of the Syrian president’s regime.
RELATED:Britain rules out military intervention in
SyriaSyrian Kurds hope to ride wave of regional
beefed-up sanctions come as the Assad regime continued its siege of the city of
Hama that has left at least 84 people dead.
“He can hold out a few more
weeks, just on inertia, but I don’t think he’ll be able to last for long,” Barak
told members of his Independence Party Knesset faction.
minister added, however, that Assad’s ouster would not necessarily be a positive
development for Israel.
“None of us knows who might replace him, but
we’re monitoring all the implications of what’s happening there,” he said,
according to Army Radio.
“Assad will fight until the last Syrian,” said
Dr. Mordechai Kedar, an expert at Bar-Ilan University’s Begin- Sadat
Center and author of the 2006 book Asad in Search of Legitimacy: Messages and
Rhetoric in the Syrian Press under Hafiz and Bashar.
even touch the least hair on his head. Right now he’s struggling for his
survival – for himself as a human being, for his family, his clan and his sect.
The fight is to the death, to the last breath,” Kedar said.
shelled Hama for the second day on Monday, killing at least four civilians,
residents said. The killings in Hama brought to 84 the number of civilians
reported killed in a tank-backed crackdown on the central city, where Assad’s
father crushed an armed Muslim Brotherhood revolt 29 years ago by razing
neighborhoods and killing many thousands of people.
Union diplomats extended sanctions against Damascus, while the beleaguered
president lashed out at “foreign conspirators” and assured his armed forces that
the Golan Heights would return to Syrian sovereignty.
In an address to
the military, Assad said the country was facing a foreign conspiracy to sow
sectarian strife designed to “tear Syria into small statelets that compete to
satisfy those who worked to slice them up.
“Syria’s belief in just and
comprehensive peace doesn’t mean relinquishing a speck of soil or a drop of
water, affirming that the Syrian Arab Golan will remain Arab and Syrian and will
return to the homeland Syria,” Assad said, according to the state-run SANA news
“We will remain free in our national decision-making and
sovereign in our international relations and our resistant course to achieve
just and comprehensive peace according to international legitimacy resolutions
that stipulate for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Arab lands up to the
June 4, 1967, line... those who bet on other than that are
Security forces, dominated by Assad’s minority Alawite sect,
had besieged Hama, a mainly Sunni city of 700,000, for nearly a month before
Sunday’s crackdown on the eve of Ramadan, a month when Muslims fast during
daylight hours. Many people flock to mosque prayers at night, occasions that
activists may use to launch more frequent protests.
The new sanctions –
levying new asset freezes and travel bans on five more regime figures – were
drawn up by the 27 EU governments last week after the bloc accused Syria of
Sunday’s indiscriminate “massacre” of civilians.
In announcing the
extension of the sanctions to five more individuals connected to the violence,
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton warned there could be further steps
“should the Syrian leadership persist in its current path.”
Monday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague ruled out military action
against the Assad regime.
“We do want to see additional sanctions,” he
told the BBC.
“We want to see stronger international pressure all round.
Of course, to be effective, that can’t just be pressure from Western nations,
that includes [pressure] from Arab nations, it includes [pressure] from
Seeking military action against Syria, even with UN authority,
was “not a remote possibility,” he said.
Russia and China have previously
opposed any condemnation of Syria in the Security Council, where they hold veto
“Moscow is seriously concerned by information about numerous
casualties,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Monday.
“The use of force
against civilians and representatives of state structures is unacceptable and
Turkey felt “great disappointment and sadness” over Sunday’s
death toll, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, blaming the use of tanks and
heavy weapons for the high number of casualties.
“Such a start to Ramadan
for Syrians is not acceptable. We condemn the attack,” Davutoglu said, adding
that Turkey had long urged Syrian officials to carry out promised reforms.