GAZA, Dec 11 (KUNA) -- Israel favors Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad retain power for fear radical Islamists may become in control of the neighboring country, according to Israel's former chief of staff, General Dan Halotz.
Tel Aviv prefers that Al-Assad remain on top of the ruling leadership in Damascus "because Israel fears extreme Islamists may take over Syria," Israel radio quoted Gen. Halotz as saying on Thursday.
"The regime in Syria kills citizens every day but we must acknowledge that the Syrian opposition is basically formed of ultra-radical Islamists namely Al-Qaeda," he said. "The basic question now is what is best for Israel?" he said, adding, "This is a crucial question because we need to ask (ourselves) whether we really want to change a bad regime for a very bad regime that we don't know and this issue must be examined seriously." A recent bomb blast on the Syrian-Israel border, the first such incident in four decades, constituted an indication how the situation might be once the radicals took over power, he warned.
Super powers, according to Gen. Halotz, "currently understand that Al-Assad regime must not be changed without knowing the alternative.
"Such an alternative till now are the elements that pose a danger to the region stability." On the recent West-Iran deal on the nuclear issue, he indicated that Washington intended to relieve itself of burden of being directly engaged in regional conflicts and called on Israeli leaders to be prepared for future times when "American intervention in the Middle East will noticeably decline." (end) mzt.rk KUNA 120010 Dec 13NNNN