Israel Condemns Violence in Syria, Speaks of “Axis of Evil”
Israel has spoken about the violence in Syria on Sunday, condemning it as the result of the work of a “axis of evil” composed by Iran, and pro-Iranian Hezbollah in Lebanon, which are assisting the regime in Damascus in its fight against their own population.
The statement, which is the first reference to a crisis related to the Arab Spring made by an Israeli official while the crisis is in progress, was made by the Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, who said that the massacre committed by Bashar al-Assad in Syria is not only the work of the government of this country but also the work of Iran and Hezbollah.
The top Israeli officials expressed their concern that the fighting in the neighboring country could degenerate and create instability throughout the region. They joined the group of the few international leaders who demanded international intervention in Syria.
Speaking at the start of a Cabinet meeting on Sunday, the prime minister Netanyahu said that the world should realize that the violence carried out in Syria was the work of an axis of evil which comprises Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. At the same time, both Netanyahu and the other officials of the Israeli government made clear that they were not supporting in any way the rebels operating in Syria.
Speaking for the Army Radio, Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz spoke of the conflict in Syria in terms of “crime against humanity,” “genocide,” which, in his opinion, are “transparent” in Syria. Mofaz also accused the “limp” response of the international community to the violence.
The president of Israel, Shimon Peres, urged, during an interview on Israel Radio, the western power to intervene to curb the violence in Syria. Peres also expressed his compassion and appreciation for the rebels in Syria, who stood in front of the gunfire, and said he hoped they would triumph.
The president also was of the opinion that the international community was not doing enough to stop the bloodshed in the restive country. The outspoken stance of Israel comes after months of silence on the matter, as Israel deemed it was not necessary to intervene, especially since Bashar al-Assad is said to have kept a quiet border on the Golan Heights disputed area.
The Jewish state however fears that the toppling of the regime in Damascus could bring the neighboring country under the influence of an Islamist regime. On the other hand the fall of Assad’s regime would weaken the grip of Iran, Israel’s archenemy, in the region, as the new government, even Islamist, would be a Sunni one.
Last week, the chief of staff, General Benny Gantz, said that Israel is facing a “lose-lose” situation in Syria, regardless of who the conflict ends.
In his statement, Mofaz, who is now part of the coalition in power, along with the premier, said that Israel had limited options in Syria, and could not intervene in the conflict for obvious reasons, but that the task lied with the western powers, led by the United States. The same was suggested by premier Netanyahu, who said that the lesser he, as a premier of Israel, said about the conflict, the better.
As the pressure mounts on the western world to do something about the regime in the wake of what seemed to be another confirmed massacre, Russia declared at the end of the week that it had nothing against Bashar al-Assad stepping down, as long as the decision represents the will of the people of Syria.
Russia has said over the last few weeks that it defended the Syrian people and that it “was not married to” Bashar al-Assad, in a stance intended to give sense to a staunch opposition to any tougher action against Damascus.
Last week, as the United Nations convened both its General Assembly and the Security Council, the special envoy Kofi Annan spoke about the need to create a contact group which would include all permanent members of the UNSC and local powerhouses.
The diplomats at the United Nations speculated that a plan similar to the one for Yemen was being devised, which would end the conflict and allow Bashar al-Assad to go into exile with impunity, as Abdullah Saleh was allowed earlier this year.
Diplomats speculated further, on condition of anonymity, that Bashar al-Assad could go to Russia into exile, a possibility unconfirmed by Moscow, or by any other official.
There is a growing concern among the people in Syria that Assad’s forces are carving a new state in Syria. Following the points his security forces are concentrating their attacks, many Syrians believe that he may want to drive out all Sunni Muslims from the coast line zone of Mediterranean with the purpose of reactivating the Alawite state which existing during the French mandate.
The hypothesis was evoked by the Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman, whose analysis on the topic indicated that Assad may want to evade prosecution for the thousands of dead in his country by creating a state for the Alawites, signaling a partition of Syria on sectarian grounds.
The UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, in an address to the UN General Assembly last week evoked the possibility of an all-out war in Syria, which does not seem so far from the truth considering that on Monday clashes between governmental troops and rebels have been reported in many parts of Syria, from the central provinces of Hama and Homs, to the outskirts of Aleppo and Damascus, the largest Syrian cities.11