Ya'alon: Assad's fall could break 'axis of evil'

Vice premier believes Syrian leader's ouster could weaken Iranian influence in region, does not envision Islamist take-over if Assad falls, says open Israeli support of opposition forces would be harmful.

February 5, 2012 10:19
1 minute read.
Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe 'Bogie' Ya'alon.

yaalon office 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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Vice Premier Moshe Ya'alon on Sunday rejected the notion that Israel supports the continuation of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, saying that the autocratic leader's fall could "break the axis of evil with Iran and Hezbollah."

Ya'alon said in an interview with Army Radio he did not believe an Islamist regime would take power in Syria in the event of Assad's demise.

"There is a big difference between Egypt and Syria," Ya'alon stated, saying that the Muslim Brotherhood was much weaker in Syria than in Egypt. The strategic affairs minister added that he envisions a government led by intellectuals and generals taking control of the country eventually.

Ya'alon said the UN Security Council's

Labor MK Isaac Herzog called on Netanyahu to buck this trend by opening Sunday's cabinet meeting with a statement saying he identifies with the Syrian people's pain and condemns the bloodshed.

Herzog told Army Radio that he is personally in contact with Syria's opposition, which he characterized as "largely secular."

The Labor MK said he does not fear revenge against Syria's Alawite minority, to which Assad belongs, in the event of his ouster. According to Herzog, an increasing number of Alawites are joining the opposition, and the people's qualms are against Assad himself, and not against all Alawites.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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