Israel wants to see al-Assad removed
Netanyahu has not publicly called for al-Assad’s ouster. AFP photoThe Israeli ambassador to the United States has said Israel has wanted to see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad removed from power since before the outbreak of war there, a shift from its publicly-stated position.
It sees his defeat by rebels who include al-Qaeda-linked Islamists as preferable to his current alliance with Iran, ambassador Michael Oren said. His comments in an interview with the Jerusalem Post marked a move in Israel’s public position on the civil war in Syria.
Unlike Israeli President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stopped short of publicly urging al-Assad’s overthrow and Israeli officials have long warned of the danger that al-Qaeda-aligned rebel forces could turn their guns on Israel if the Syrian leader fell. But, Oren said: “The initial message about the Syrian issue was that we always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” Oren said. This was Israel’s position well before the outbreak of war in Syria and had continued to be so, he said. Oren described al-Qaeda-aligned rebels as “pretty bad guys” but said that others were less radical.
Oren described al-Qaeda-aligned rebels as “pretty bad guys” but said that others were less radical.
In the interview, excerpted ahead of its publication in full on Sept. 20, Oren, a Netanyahu confidant, did not say if or how Israel was promoting al-Assad’s fall.