Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has called on Russia and China to support international efforts to remove Syrian president Bashar Assad from power. Speaking on CNN during a brief visit to Washington, he said that Assad has lost his legitimacy and that deposing him would be a “very positive event”. He also noted that the fall of the Syrian regime would harm Iranian influence in the region. Syria is a vital conduit for Iranian support for Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Whilst in Washington Barak met with US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, and discussed the issue of Iran. He noted in his CNN interview that, despite multi-power talks with Iran, the Iranian regime continues to enrich uranium. “It is clear that the Iranians are focused on reaching nuclear capability, and they are ready to defy and deceive the whole world,” he said. Stressing that there is no difference between Israeli and American assessments on Iran, he noted that, despite the fact that Tehran has not yet given an order to build a nuclear bomb, it is clear that this is their intention. He also repeated Israeli concerns that the six-power talks may only serve to buy time for Iran. “I am realistic enough to not be so optimistic about talks with Iran,” he said. “The Iranians have a history of deceiving the world, sometime through steps like this. So we are a little bit sceptical.”