Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is “doomed,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday, urging the international community to increase pressure on his embattled regime.
Assad’s departure would be a “major blow” to Iran as well as Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, he said, while stressing the importance of Russia’s role in finding a way out of the current crisis.
He also warned that only Assad and the elites around him need to go, and not other structures of the Syrian regime including the army.
“I’m quite frustrated for the slowness of its collapse. I believe that he (Assad) is doomed anyhow. I believe that there is a need to raise our voices both for moral reasons and practical … much more loudly,” he told CNN.
He said it was important “that every possible step is taken by world community, by NATO, by the United States, by the Russians, Turkey could have a special role in it, to accelerate the whole thing.”
“I think that a way should be found .. to change (the regime) in Syria, preferably (using) the Yemenite example, namely to let Assad and his group go out and … not to dismantle the party, the intelligence, the armed forces.”
Barak was speaking after flying to Washington for the third time in as many months, as world powers prepared for fresh talks with Iran on its nuclear program.
Israeli and the United States are “basically … on the same page” over Tehran, he said. “We say loud and clear, the Americans say the same, the president says the same, a nuclear military Iran is unacceptable.
“We are determined to prevent them from turning nuclear. And that no option except for containment, no option should be removed off the table in order to achieve this objective.”
Toppling Assad would seriously hurt Tehran, he said. “It will be a major blow to Iran when Assad falls, they are now supporting him very actively. It will be a weakening blow to the Hezbollah and probably Islamic Jihad.”