Israeli officials see Syria falling into battle between al-Qaida, Iran (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel 04/10/12)
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Israeli officials are very skeptical the Syrian government and
opposition will stick to the cease-fire that UN envoy Kofi Annan
hopes will take hold on Tuesday.
Annan, a former UN general secretary, has been traveling to Syria for
several weeks in an attempt to broker a truce between President
Bashar Assad and opposition forces, after many months of unrest.
Human rights reports show that more than 100 civilians have been
executed so far this year, and the opposition says more than 150
civilians - including 17 children - were killed on Monday alone.
Annan´s mission might even have made things worse. By not insisting
on Assad´s departure, it encouraged his regime to step up its
clampdown and set preconditions for accepting a cease-fire.
Damascus says it will withdraw from city centers only if the
opposition forces commit in writing to hold their fire, a
prerequisite that the opposition has dismissed out of hand.
According to the NGO Human Rights Watch, witnesses say Assad´s
soldiers have carried out executions in broad daylight in an attempt
to teach others a lesson.
Assad probably thinks the international community´s efforts will
amount to lip service and lax sanctions. As long as a military
intervention is off the table, Assad can continue his harsh measures
to fight for his survival.
Assad has stepped up measures against the opposition ahead of the
implementation of the cease-fire, in a bid to devastate his rivals if
the plan fails. But his iron-fist policy has yet to dissuade the
Syrian people, and his regime remains far from stable.
Israeli officials say it remains unclear how far Washington will go
to help bring about Assad´s downfall. They say Syria might become a
failed state if the unrest continues, with Hezbollah and Iran on one
side and Al-Qaida-inspired Sunnis on the other consolidating
The consensus in the Israeli intelligence community is that Assad
sooner or later will be ousted. "Assad is past the point of no
return," says a senior cabinet minister. "He won´t be able to restore
his position as Syria´s undisputed leader. His victory visit to [the
restive city of] Homs should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Resistance is growing, even in Damascus."
Israeli officials are also concerned about reports showing Syrian
weapons falling into Hezbollah´s hands, though it is still unclear
whether the Shi´ite organization has gotten hold of chemical weapons.
(© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 04/10/12)
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