Israeli minister: Assad's end may be 'long and bloody'
Syrian President Bashar Assad, facing an 11-month-old uprising, will fall from power eventually but the process could be "long and bloody" as he has outside support from Iran, Israeli deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon said Friday Maan reported
In remarks on the sidelines of a conference in Germany, Ayalon said that support in the UN Security Council could also prolong Assad's rule. He did not name any country but appeared to refer to longtime Syria ally Russia.
"Assad has no real challenge unfortunately from the international community as his case is being barred from discussion in the Security Council because of some members of the Security Council, and because he continues to get material financial and military help from the Ayatollahs in Iran and Hezbollah."
"So with having these two political assets in the Security Council and military assets in Iran, unfortunately he can stay for a long time, although he lost his legitimacy and sometimes at the end he will fall, but it may be a long and bloody process."
Moscow is one of Assad's few remaining allies, joining China in an October veto of a Western-crafted Security Council resolution that threatened an arms embargo. Russia is threatening to veto an Arab and Western draft resolution condemning Syrian authorities for the crackdown on protests.
Ayalon said Russia should avoid supplying arms to Syria as this could destabilise the situation further.
A Russian newspaper reported Jan. 23 that Russia had signed a deal to sell Syria nearly 40 fighter jet trainers for over half a billion dollars, despite growing international criticism over its military trade with the country.
The daily Kommersant cited a source close to Russia's state arms export monopoly, Rosoboronexport, as saying that the sides had signed a contract after holding talks in December, and that Damascus was to pay $550 million for 36 Yak-130 aircraft.
Assad has used troops and tanks to try to crush a popular revolt and thousands of people have been killed.
Ayalon said the bulk of the Syrian military was still intact "notwithstanding a few defections".