Israel Intelligence Minister: Assad May Prevail in Syria Civil War

Image: Israel Intelligence Minister: Assad May Prevail in Syria Civil War Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, confers with Minister of Intelligence, International Relations and Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz.

Monday, 10 Jun 2013 08:35 AM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink
JERUSALEM — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah, may prevail in the more than two-year-old uprising against him, Israel's intelligence minister said on Monday.

Though the assessment was quickly disavowed by others in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government, it reflected the difficulties facing Israel and Western countries in predicting Syria's destiny and weighing intervention.

Yuval Steinitz, minister for international affairs, strategy, and intelligence, was asked at a briefing with foreign journalists whether recent successes by Assad's forces against outgunned rebels might herald victory for the Syrian leader.

"I always thought that it might be the case that at the end of the day Assad, with a very strong Iranian and Hezbollah backing, might gain the upper hand," Steinitz said. "And I think that this is possible and I thought that this is possible already a long time ago."

Steinitz, who is not a member of Israel's security Cabinet but does have access to intelligence updates as well as Netanyahu's ear, said Assad's government "might not just survive but even regain territories" from the rebels.

He declined to comment further on a possible Assad victory, citing Israel's policy of not meddling publicly in Syria.

"MISINFORMED"

The defense and foreign ministries received Steinitz's remarks coolly.

"This is Steinitz's personal informed — or rather, misinformed — position," said one Israeli diplomat who asked not to be named.

Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev said Steinitz was speaking for himself and that the Israeli government did not have a formal position on Assad's prospects.

In June 2011, only three months after the Syrian uprising began with peaceful protests, then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the lone centrist in the previous government also led by Netanyahu, forecast Assad's fall "within weeks."

Months later, after a full-fledged insurgency had developed, a senior Israeli official said Barak had been trying to "jump the gun" and encourage Assad's foes to hasten his overthrow — an outcome that Israel viewed as inevitable at the time.

Yet the current Netanyahu government appears more cautious, given the four decades of stability Assad and his father before him had maintained on the Syrian-Israeli front line.

Israel does not want chaos there, especially as it estimates that one in 10 of the anti-Assad rebels are radical Islamists.

Government officials also say privately they have urged Western counterparts to consider any aid to Syrian rebels carefully, lest the weaponry end up being used against Israel.

Israel has carried out at least three airstrikes on Syrian sites that intelligence sources described as advanced weaponry in transit to Hezbollah. Israeli forces on the occupied Golan Heights have occasionally fired in response to Syrian gunfire when troops and rebels battle near the front lines.

Alluding to Israel's superior military might, Steinitz said: "It is in his [Assad's] interest not to provoke us so that we get involved."

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Retype Email:
Country
Zip Code:
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
You May Also Like

White House Condemns Shelling of UN School in Gaza

Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 09:24 AM

The White House condemned the shelling on Wednesday of a United Nations school in Gaza that local authorities estimated  . . .

Russia Says US Accusations over Nuclear Treaty 'Unfounded'

Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 09:07 AM

Russia on Wednesday dismissed Washington's accusations that it has violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Treaty as "un . . .

G7 Leaders Warn of Further Costs to Russia over Ukraine

Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 09:03 AM

G7 leaders issued a joint statement on Wednesday warning Russia that it will face added economic sanctions if Moscow doe . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved