Ehud Barak: Assad's downfall to become "blessing for Middle East"
Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime could come crashing down within a few weeks, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said yesterday at the World Policy Conference in Vienna, Haaretz reported.
"The falling down of this family is a blessing for the Middle East," Barak said during a question-and-answer session at the conference.
Since June, Barak has been predicting the downfall of the Assad regime "within a few months." Last week, during a visit to the Golan Heights, the defense minister updated his forecast to weeks. This time his statements sounded louder as they were made at an international conference.
Barak added that the fighting in Syria in recent days expressed "the ongoing downfall of the Assad family that would lead to the end of its reign."
According to assessments by Israeli intelligence officials, the events of the past few weeks in Syria, where clashes between Assad's security forces and rebels have intensified, have indeed hastened the downfall of the current regime. Assad, the intelligence officials believe, is under increasing internal pressure that has been boosted by the severe condemnations coming from the international community against the Syrian leader's violent oppression of the uprising in his country.
The United Nations says that at least 4,000 people have been killed in the government crackdown on protests calling for the ouster of al-Assad that started in March. The government has blamed the uprising against al-Assad on armed gangs financed by Arab and Western countries.
Edited by: S. Isayev