Q. How does Israel ensure that Iran is defeated in Syria? Wouldn’t it backfire if Israel were seen to be involved?
A. Israel shouldn’t be directly involved for obvious reasons. Once Israel enters the fray, this becomes an Israeli-Arab or Israeli-Muslim confrontation, which deflects attention from the main issues of Sunni-Shiite, and the Shiite repression of a majority in a foreign country. Israel should promote through its channels with major powers in the world a dialogue between leaders in Western nations and Russia to try to forge a common policy on Syria, which would entail mutual concessions at the American and Russian level.
Q. Recently Israel has been very focused on Iran’s nuclear program and the debate over a strike. It is doing enough on Syria?
A. I don’t have any evidence that Israel is working on this, but I hope some work is being done. Israel has certain interests in Syria which have to be taken into account. The ultimate resolution of this crisis should not leave an Iranian presence in Syria with a weakened Assad. I don’t want to see Iran having its own finger on the button of Syria’s strategic weapons. Israel must make sure this does not happen.
Q. You’ve said that a defeat in Syria would deal a blow to Iran’s nuclear program. Why?
A. The issue of Syria and of Iran’s nuclear capability are interconnected. You cannot divorce them. Iran’s effort to achieve nuclear capability and its effort to entrench itself in Syria are part of the same multifaceted regional problem. One of the mistakes we’ve made up to this point is to deal with these issues separately.
Q. Not that long ago, many in Israel were quietly hoping Assad’s regime would survive because he’s predictable in his relations with Israel and is the “devil you know.” With reports that Al Qaeda-linked terrorists might be seeking a stronghold in Syria, do you worry that Assad might be replaced with an extremist Sunni regime that is even more hostile toward Israel?