IDF: Assad may create tension at border to divert attention

Israel keeping close eye on Syria, senior IDF officers say, and are concerned with Islamists usurping Assad's power.

President Shimon Peres, soldiers in North 311 (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
President Shimon Peres, soldiers in North 311
(photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
Israel is increasingly concerned with the ongoing demonstrations in Syria and the possibility that Damascus or Hezbollah will try and provoke Israel along the northern border in an attempt to deflect attention from domestic trouble.
Israel, senior IDF officers said on Tuesday, was keeping a close eye on the situation in Syria and was concerned with the possibility that President Bashar Assad’s regime would be toppled and replaced by radical Islamists.
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One senior officer said that unlike Egypt, where the Higher Military Council took over for toppled President Hosni Mubarak, in Syria there is no clear successor, which could lead to division within the country and potential anarchy.
On Tuesday, President Shimon Peres toured the border with Lebanon together with Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot and spoke in support of the demonstrators in Syria.
“Syria is a poor country with a low quality of life,” Peres told soldiers at a base along the Lebanese border. “Democracy needs to be allowed into a country the moment the young generation opens its eyes. The young people have questions about why they are living in poverty. A family that cannot provide food for itself is tragic.”
Peres raised similar hopes for democracy in Iran, which he said was providing $1 billion annually in military aid to Hezbollah.
“Iran has poverty and unemployment but is not using its money for its own people,” he said.