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Assad has ‘license to kill,’ says Israeli intel chief
Syrian President Bashar Assad got a “license to kill” anti-government demonstrators because the United Nations failed to impose the kind of tough measures that helped topple Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, according to a former chief of Israeli military intelligence.
“Unfortunately, Bashar got a ‘license to kill.’ Not formal, not explicit, but he understood that unlike Libya, there will not be a Security Council resolution because Russia will protect him,” retired Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin said.
“He understood that the Arab League is not willing to ask America or NATO to attack him, so he is basically immune from international intervention, which means he can do what Gadhafi was not allowed to do.”
In March, the Security Council imposed a no-fly zone over Libya after rebels began an uprising that eventually led to the overthrow of the dictator, who is now on the run. The 22-country Arab League supported the U.N. action.
Mr. Yadlin contradicted Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who predicted last month that Mr. Assad’s “fate is sealed,” a sentiment echoed by many observers during Syria’s bloody six-month repression of protests. The United Nations estimates that Mr. Assad’s forces have killed at least 2,200 people.
“I think there is an interference of wishful thinking with the reality,” said Mr. Yadlin, whose four-year term ended in December.
In May, Mr. Yadlin — now a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy — co-wrote a paper arguing that Mr. Assad’s ouster is desirable despite uncertainty about who will replace him.
“At that time, I was a lone voice,” he said. “I think by now, many in Israel and here understand that it will probably be better if he goes.”
“Aleppo and Damascus are still very quiet. People try not to see it, but this is a fact, unfortunately,” Mr. Yadlin said.
“You don’t see many defections,” he said. “You can see on YouTube a captain, a major, but a real defection is that the unit disintegrates or even that a brigadier general takes a division, and you don’t see it.”
Mr. Assad also is holding onto Syrian minorities, including Christians, Kurds and Druze.
“He said to his minorities, ‘Look what happened in Iraq. Look what happened in Lebanon. Look what happened to the Christians in Egypt. I am better for you,’ ” Mr. Yadlin said.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.
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